Wildlife photographer of the year-2022 winners: Karine Aigner’s “Big Buzz” and a photographer with a passion for natural science
The Natural History Museum said wildlife photographers offer us unforgettable glimpse into the lives of wild species, sharing unseen details, fascinating behaviors and front-line reporting on climate and biodiversity crises. “These images show their awe and appreciation for the natural world and the need to take action to protect it.”
The winning images will be on display in an exhibition at the Natural History Museum. It will eventually tour across the United Kingdom and other venues in Europe, as well as North America (including Texas and Michigan), Australia and New Zealand.
The museum said in a release that an international panel of experts had selected the 19 finalists out of more than 38,000 entries from nearly 100 countries, based on their “originality, narrative, technical excellence and ethical practice.” Then, they awarded two of those winners — one in each age category — the top prize.
American photographer Karine Aigner was named wildlife photographer of the year for a close-up shot of a “buzzing ball of cactus bees spinning over the hot sand on a Texas ranch” that she calls “The Big Buzz.”
All but one are males intent on mating with the single female bee at the center, the museum explains, adding that the bees are threatened by pesticides, climate change, habitat loss and disruptive farming practices.
The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year: A Bryde Whale’s “The Beauty of Baleen” winner and another “world of the snow leopard” winner
The award of young wildlife photographer of the year went to 16-year-old Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn, of Thailand, who captured an almost abstract snapshot of a Bryde’s whale surfacing near his boat to feed on small anchovies. It is called “The Beauty of Baleen.”
Wuttichaitanakorn was moved by the contrasting colors and textures of the whale’s “dark skin, pink gum and the brush-like mass of baleen hanging down from its top jaw,” the museum says, referring to the plates of baleen that certain types of whales use when lunge-feeding, in order to filter small prey from the ocean.
Entries for the next year’s contest from photographers of all ages will be accepted in October and December. In the meantime, check out some of this year’s champions:
A record 60,466 nature people voted, and German photographer Sascha Fonseca’s “World of the snow leopard” emerged as the firm favorite in the prestigious competition.
There are estimated to be just 6,500 adult snow leopards living in the wild today, and their existence is threatened by poaching, habitat loss and conflict with humans.
Thanking everyone who voted for his picture, Fonseca said in a statement issued by the museum: “Photography can connect people to wildlife and encourage them to appreciate the beauty of the unseen natural world. I believe that a greater understanding of wildlife leads to deeper caring which hopefully results in active support and greater public interest for conservation.”
“Schafer’s remarkable image captures the breathtaking beauty of our planet and reminds us of our share of responsibility to protect it,” said the director of the Natural History Museum.
One of the four images selected as “highly commended” also features a leopard, though not of the snow variety. The leopard was carrying a dead monkey and its baby.
Brittany Crossman’s art shows the red fox nuzzling while Martin Gregus’ artwork shows a polar bear playing on the coast of Canada. The lion pictured in Marina’s Portrait of Olobor is in the Maasai Mara.