2022 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winners Stun and Delight

Prepare to be amazed. This year’s winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have outdone themselves.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the National History Museum, London. The contest invites expert photographers from around the world to showcase the most beautiful, stunning, and captivating wildlife that mother nature has to offer. This year’s Adult Grand Title Winner is American Karine Aigner, who snagged the title with a photograph of cactus bees boiling in a mating frenzy.

Aigner used a macro lens to capture the Texas scene, and the resulting photograph was dynamic enough to win the contest’s highest honor.

“In today’s world, where we struggle to grab the attention of the policymakers toward even big mammals, this image helps in bringing the spotlight to one of nature’s most important creatures — bees,” said Sugandhi Gadahar, wildlife filmmaker and contest judge.

The photograph — titled “The Big Buzz” — is simple yet dynamic. It certainly caught the eye of jury Chair Rosamund Kidman Cox.

“The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female,” Cox told the Natural History Museum.

Smiles to tears

Spain’s Jose Juan Hernandez Martinez took top honors in the Animal Portraits category with a graceful image of a Canary Islands houbara engaging in a courtship ritual.

“Humor can be a really effective way to make a photograph compelling — this image really makes me smile,” noted contest judge and photojournalist Jen Guyton.

a Canary Islands houbara

Photo: Jose Juan Hernandez Martinez, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

Junji Takasago, a photographer from Japan, stunned judges in the Natural Artistry category with his “Heavenly Flamingos”. Taken high in the Bolivian Andes, the image merges clouds, salt flats, and birds in a way that suggests the boundaries between imagination and reality are blurring.

Chilean flamingos standing on a salt flat with reflected clouds

Junji Takasago, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

The winning photograph in the Photojournalism category tugs at the heartstrings and serves as a reminder of the powerful bonds humans and animals can form. Photographer Brent Stirton was present at the moment of mountain gorilla Ndakasi’s passing as she lay cradled in the arms of her caregiver Andre Bauma.

a man cradles a dying gorilla

Photo: Brent Stirton, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

The scene proved significantly moving to judge Jen Guyton.

“One of the most important roles that photography can do is convey emotion. This image does that to an astounding degree — it’s pure emotion. Images like this can be truly effective at inspiring change,” she said.

It wouldn’t be a wildlife photography competition without a classic big cat hunting scene. India’s Anad Nambiar delivers a kinetic photograph of a snow leopard charging downhill toward a herd of Himalayan ibex. The rare glimpse into a snow leopard hunt won first prize in the Behavior: Mammals category.

a snow leopard chases a herd of ibex

Photo: Anand Nambiar, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

See the images in person

This year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition was the 58th such contest that the Natural History Museum has held. It garnered over 38,000 entries from 93 countries.

Starting October 14, visitors to the Natural History Museum In London can view the winners (and runners-up) in a new exhibition. Click here for tickets. If you don’t live in London, check out a gallery of winning photographs here.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew's essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals. You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).