The winners of the fifth edition of Nature India photo contest have now been chosen after a week of unprecedented activity on the Indigenus blog and our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter ), and brainstorming by a global jury comprising members of the Nature Research editorial and design teams as well as an independent vector-borne diseases scientist.
The photographs have been judged for their adherence to this year’s theme ‘Vector-borne diseases’, for their creative thinking, quality and print worthiness. They were also rated in part on the engagement they received on social media.
The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 is:
Sudip Maiti, from Kolkata, India
for his striking image titled ‘Safe from dengue’, a simple yet powerful message around prevention of vector-borne diseases.
Sudip says this about his image:
This two-year-old boy plays safely inside a mosquito net in Kolkata,West Bengal, India. Over 13,000 people were affected by the vector-borne disease in the State of west Bengal alone in the year 2017, while the official death count reached 30.
As a simple preventive measure, the use of mosquito net is widespread among the residents of this eastern metropolis.
In second position is:
Aditya Kanwal from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab, India
with his picture titled ‘The pretty side of mosquitoes‘ that beautifully brings out a not so known facet of the deadly vector.
Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain. Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants.
Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.
What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.
The third prize goes to:
Nitin Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
for his image ‘Mosquito: an accidental killer‘ where he bravely clicked a mosquito feasting on a blood meal on his hand.
Female mosquitoes bite us because they need blood to nourish their eggs. The bite itself is not harmful: the tiny belly of a mosquito, seen in the photograph, can take no more than a few microliters of blood at a time, while the human body produces 10 times more every minute. What makes the bite dangerous occasionally is what the mosquito leaves behind, which could be a deadly parasite.
The photograph shows a female Culex mosquito gorging on my left hand, which I captured using a camera held in the right hand.
Congratulations to the winners!
The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.
These winning photos and those of 7 other finalists will be featured in a roving exhibition at four venues in India, details of which we will announce as we firm up these events.