Swimming Pool

23 Amazing Photos Winners of the World Nature Photography Awards

From furry to delicate and frightening, the images of nature winning this year’s World Nature Photography Awards (WNPA) capture spectacular moments of life on our precious and endangered planet.

A mud-encrusted crocodile surveying its surroundings with a piercing yellow eye in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park by German photographer Jens Cullmann won the top prize of $1,000.

“This photo is the result of my staking out of the largest pool in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, at a time when an extended drought had turned the pool into fast-drying mud,” explains Jens Cullmann.

“I had to be very careful not to disturb the crocodile even though it was buried in the dry mud. They will pounce on any animal foolish enough to get too close with tremendous speed and power.”

During the dry season, temperatures can reach 45 degrees Celsius and crocodiles try to lower their body temperature by burying themselves in the mud. A giant crocodile like this could survive a month underwater without eating by feeding on its fat stores. This is a process known as aestheticization.

MORE FROM FORBESWorld Nature Photography Awards: 20 stunning winning images

The overall winner and the gold, silver and bronze winners in the various categories were determined from thousands of entries from 45 countries on six continents.

“When great science and great art are combined, amazing things can be achieved,” the organizers said.

“We congratulate all of our winners and extend our heartfelt thanks for capturing such spectacular images of our precious planet,” said Adrian Dinsdale, co-founder of the WNPA. “Once again, we hope it will give us all strong motivation to do what we can to protect the earth for future generations.”

After the winners were announced, the WNPA officially opened the bidding process for this year.

The World Nature Photography Awards were founded on the belief that we can all make small efforts to positively shape the future of our world and that photography can make people see the world from a different perspective and change their own habits for the better to change the planet.

From landscape photography to animals in their habitats, photojournalism and human interaction with nature, there are 14 categories in the competition, which is free to enter.

See all winning pictures here.

animal portraits

Behavior: Mammals

An African savannah elephant, Loxodonta africana, camouflaged behind an undersized bush at Marataba Private Reserve, Marakele National Park in Limpopo, South Africa.

The elephant stepped behind the bush in an apparent attempt to hide from Widstrand’s car. The car stopped for the passengers to watch, and the animals seemed to realize that its cover was blown. It went away calmly.

These elephants are critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

Behavior: amphibians and reptiles

The Japanese river toad lives deep in the mountains of Owase in Mie, Japan and only comes down from the mountains to the river for spawning season.

Behavior: Birds

A male hooded merganser takes off and heads straight for the photographer. “I had watched a pair of hooded mergansers await their launch,” recalled Charles Schmidt. “Ducks often start swimming faster as they prepare to fly.”

Behavior: invertebrates

A red crab on the island of La Gomera, Spain appears surrounded by a thin curtain of water created by sea waves as it hits the rocks, where it searches for the small crustaceans and plants it feeds on.

Black and white

art of nature

Corals are animals and so they reproduce to create new generations of baby corals.

Typically, thousands of corals of a given species reproduce hundreds of kilometers of reef at exactly the same time by spawning bundles of eggs and seeds together into the open sea. These bundles are swept along by the currents and mix with the water until they finally hit a match. A sperm fertilizes an egg and new life is born.

However, catching coral spawns is a tricky business as it usually only happens once a year, in a given month on a given night of the month and at a given time of night for a very short window of just a few minutes.

This photo shows a close-up of a branching coral spawn with clusters of pink eggs and seeds.

This is a unique presentation of red spider mites. “I found these mites in my garden during the lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Anirban Dutta. “These are very small, around 1-2 millimeters, and form a silky web to escape from predators.

As a macro photographer, I have always tried to seek and show the unique and invisible little world. This is a multiple exposure. I took five shots at different angles and merged them into one.”


A pair of harlequin shrimp, Hymanocera picta, photographed snouting on the blue starfish Linkia laevigata in the Lembeh Straits, Indonesia.

plants and fungi

“The tree is considered a sacred symbol with significant meaning in both religious and spiritual philosophy,” said Julie Kenny. “From above, the surrounding sheep tracks combined with the fallen tree reminded me of the tree of life. As the aerial perspective focuses on the earth you can see the pooled water in the sheep tracks reflecting blue hints from the sky conveying the connection of all things, beginnings and endings, the circle of life.”

Landscapes and environments of planet Earth

“On June 17, 2021, I hiked, snowshoeed and climbed the 11,000 foot summit of Table Mountain in Wyoming to photograph the Milky Way over Grand Teton Peak,” said Jake Mosher. “Although these iconic mountains have been photographed tens of thousands of times, I wanted to show a totally unique view of them. I was treated to one of the most spectacular airglow displays I have ever seen, similar to the Aurora and generated by photocharged particles but spanning much of the horizon.”

Urban wildlife

A male kestrel sits in his nest, a dilapidated tall and rusty street lamp that has become the bird’s home. “I took the picture at sunset to see the grate, lamps and bird in natural light,” said Vladislav Tasev. “The photo was taken in the town of Stara Zagora, near the Thracian University, in an abandoned parking lot near a small forest.

nature photojournalism

An Australian fur seal in Port Kembla, Australia, shows serious injuries from a ship’s propeller.

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