Wild PHOTOS: World Nature Photography Awards’ 2021 Winners Revealed—And the Pictures Are Jaw Dropping

BY Michael Wing TIMEApril 30, 2022 PRINT

Spectacular pictures taken from all corners of the earth by some of the world’s best photographers feature the unmatched beauty of nature in this year’s World Nature Photography Awards.

From remote Antarctic lagoons, where leopard seals hunt their penguin prey, to pristine ice falls in central Japan; from half-submerged scenes of American crocodiles stealthily skulking below sun-kissed tropical waters in Cuba, to the awesome power of bull elephants sparring in Kenya; the majesty and wonder of the earth, and all its creatures, are showcased in the competition winners’ submissions from across six continents.

The top prize for World Nature Photographer of the Year 2021 went to Amos Nachoum from the United States, whose dynamic underwater picture of a ferocious-looking leopard seal playfully penguin hunting in the Antarctic also won the Gold prize for the “Behavior – Mammals” category. For his photo, Nachoum took home a cash prize of $1,000.

Gold: Behavior – Mammals

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Leopard seal chasing a Gentoo penguin, Amos Nachoum, U.S.A. (Courtesy of Amos Nachoum/World Nature Photography Award)

“For hours, I waited for the low tide to arrive along a shallow lagoon on a remote island off the Antarctic Peninsula,” Nachoum recounted. “Like clockwork, the leopard seal arrived in the lagoon just before low tide. It put its head in the water and looked just like a rock sitting in the receding water. The young Gentoo penguins only dare to enter the water when it is shallow and when they got close enough to the seal, it turned its head at lightning speed, catching one of the penguins by its feet and taking it to deep water. Once the seal reached open water, I followed it and swam parallel to it, observing its actions. To my surprise, it let go of the penguin twice. Each time, the seal chased after the penguin again, as if it was enjoying the game. The terrified penguin tried to escape as the game continued. But soon, the end came.”

Gold: Behavior – Invertebrates

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Red ants, Chin Leong Teo, Singapore. (Courtesy of Chin Leong Teo/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Animal Portraits

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Long-tailed macaques, Tom Vierus, Fiji. “Three long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) enjoy the warmth of each other during a hot day in Bali, Indonesia. These animals show very similar behavior to us humans, including enjoying each others company. The macaques are used to humans and are commonly found around temples where they tend to feed on food sacrifices donated by the temple visitors.” (Courtesy of Tom Vierus/World Nature Photography Award)

Other winning entries feature a row of red ants instinctively forming an ant bridge in order to cross a span of water in Indonesia; a coalition of male cheetahs daringly crossing a raging river in the Maasai Mara; and an intimate scene of a mother long-tailed macaque and her babies portraying the primate family enjoying a cuddle on a hot day in Bali, Indonesia. Like windows into another realm, these scenes reveal some of the magic and mystery of our world.

“We believe in the power of photography to put a spotlight on the majesty and wonder of the natural world around us,” World Nature Photography Awards stated. “The mission of the World Nature Photography Awards is to celebrate the world’s best nature photographers whilst showcasing nature’s beauty to a wider audience.”

And in an effort to preserve the pristine vitality of our planet, the competition has committed to plant a tree every time someone enters the competition.

Here are more highlights featuring the WNPA winners:

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Silver: Behavior – Mammals: Two bull elephants sparring with one another, William Fortescue, UK. (Courtesy of William Fortescue/World Nature Photography Award)
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Bronze: Behavior – Mammals: Five male cheetahs, Buddhilini de Soyza, Australia. (Courtesy of Buddhilini de Soyza/World Nature Photography Award)
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Silver: Behavior – Amphibians and Reptiles: American crocodile, Massimo Giorgetta, Italy. (Courtesy of Massimo Giorgetta/World Nature Photography Award)
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Bronze: Animal Portraits: Female puma and her cubs, Amit Eshel, Israel. (Courtesy of Amit Eshel/World Nature Photography Award)
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Bronze: Planet Earth’s Landscapes and Environments: Ice falls, Rie Asada, Japan. (Courtesy of Rie Asada/World Nature Photography Award)
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Bronze: Nature Art: Lettuce coral by Gabriel Barathieu, Mayotte. (Courtesy of Gabriel Barathieu/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Animals in Their Habitat

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Bornean orangutan, Thomas Vijayan, Canada. (Courtesy of Thomas Vijayan/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Behavior – Amphibians and Reptiles

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Pacific Tree Frog, Shayne Kaye, Canada. (Courtesy of Shayne Kaye/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Black and White

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Rare blue morph arctic fox, Vince Burton, UK. (Courtesy of Vince Burton/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Nature Art

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Landscape with trees, Federico Testi, Italy. (Courtesy of Federico Testi/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Photojournalism

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Three-month-old female orangutan Alain Schroeder, Belgium. (Courtesy of Alain Schroeder/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: People and Nature

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Ice cave, Sabrina Inderbitzi, Switzerland. (Courtesy of Sabrina Inderbitzi/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Planet Earth’s Landscapes and Environments

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Landscape, Sam Wilson, Australia. (Courtesy of Sam Wilson/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Plants and Fungi

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Abandoned house, Gautam Kamat Bambolkar, U.S.A. (Courtesy of Gautam Kamat Bambolkar/World Nature Photography Award)

Gold: Urban Wildlife

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Humpback whale, Matthijs Noome, U.S.A. (Courtesy of Matthijs Noome/World Nature Photography Award)

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Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
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