‘Squirrel Man’ Niki (36) wins National Geographic Photo Contest audience award: “Waited for hours for the unique moment” | InstagramHLN

Genk/DiepenbeekNature photographer Niki Colemont (36) from Genk has won the public prize of the National Geographic Photo Contest. He received the most votes in the Animal category with his photo of a squirrel jumping off a piece of moss with a nut in its mouth.

Earlier, ‘The Squirrelman’, who was nicknamed for his creative snaps of squirrels, enthusiastically posted about the competition on his Instagram. “A dream would come true if I can win with a squirrel photo,” he told his fans. Today it turned out to be a hit and the Diepenbeken resident, who moved to Genk, won the audience prize of the National Geographic Photo Contest.

“I still can’t grasp it,” responds Niki, who walks off with a glass award, shopping credit at CameraNU worth 500 euros and an annual subscription to National Geographic. That’s my favorite animal and my favorite fashion model (laughs). On Monday evening, the results were suddenly published on the National Geographic website. Incredible.”

Niki Colemont during his work as a nature photographer. © Caroline Coenen

How exactly was the winning photo taken? “By tempting the squirrel with a hazelnut on some moss, which I floated on a drinking pond,” Niki smiles. “That pond in a private forest in North Brabant in the Netherlands is specifically intended for squirrels. Together with a good friend I went there and waited for four hours for a brave squirrel who dared to take the plunge. Many squirrels wanted to, but did not find the courage.”

Niki Colemont exercises a lot of patience every time during his work as a photographer.
Niki Colemont exercises a lot of patience every time during his work as a photographer. © Caroline Coenen

“Until that one squirrel suddenly jumped, took the hazelnut in its mouth and ran off again. I was able to capture that special moment. If you look closely, you can see the reflection of the squirrel in the drinking pond and how the animal’s tail creates a circular silhouette. I thought that was such a unique image that I didn’t hesitate to send it in. I still can’t believe it’s now number one.”

Follow Niki Colemont’s work? Then you can visit instagram.com/nikicolemont.

Niki Colemont.
Niki Colemont. © Caroline Coenen

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