Animals

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022: Winning Photos of Once-in-a-Lifetime Moments

BY Epoch Inspired Staff TIMENovember 28, 2022 PRINT

The just-released winning images of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards 2022 are simply so extraordinary that it’s easy to overlook the effort required to get such shots. These genius photographers have truly made once-in-a-lifetime encounters appear so easy to capture.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. Picking the top images was an intensive process, involving 38,575 entries from 93 countries. All of the glorious winning and runners-up photos will be on display at the Natural History Museum in London from Oct. 14 this year to July 2, 2023.

The collection highlights the selected best in nature photography, showcasing breathtaking landscapes, exotic animals, and rarely-seen animal behaviors.

The two Grand Title winners—Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year—were selected from 19 category winners.

“The Big Buzz” by Karine Aigner, US | Winner: Invertebrates

American photographer Karine Aigner won the Grand title prize for her photo of a buzzing ball of male cactus bees competing fiercely for a mate. While admiring that winning photo, one might never realize that snapping it necessitated laying down on the scorching sand of a South Texas ranch.

Epoch Times Photo
The Big Buzz by Karine Aigner. (Karine Aigner/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“The Beauty of Baleen” by Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn, Thailand | Winner: 15-17 years

Beside Aigner’s close-up portrait of the mating ball was the photograph taken by a 16-year-old boy from Thailand. Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn won the top prize for Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 for his creative image of the mouth of a Bryde’s whale.

With a curious, brush-like texture, the whale’s upper jaw is entirely covered in baleen, the feeding system made of keratin used by the whale to filter its prey. To capture this stunning image, the teen photographer had to steady his hands as the tour boat he was traveling on rocked in the swell. His efforts proved successful.

Epoch Times Photo
The Beauty of Baleen by Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn. (Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Ndakasi’s Passing” by Brent Stirton, South Africa | Winner: Photojournalism

The emotional photograph shows the closing chapter of the story of a much-loved rescued mountain gorilla named Ndakasi.

Photographer Brent Stirton memorialized her passing as she lay in the arms of her rescuer and caregiver of 13 years, ranger Andre Bauma.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Brent Stirton/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Heavenly Flamingos” by Junji Takasago, Japan | Winner: Natural Artistry

High up in the Andes, artistic Japanese photographer Junji Takasago fought back altitude sickness to achieve his exquisite image of a group of Chilean flamingos.

High in the Andes, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt pan. It is also one of Bolivia’s largest lithium mines, which threatens the future of these flamingos, according to Natural History Museum’s press release.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Junji Takasago/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Under Antarctic Ice” by Laurent Ballesta, France | Winner: Portfolio Award – Pyramid of Life

Underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta braved a below-freezing dive to reveal the otherworldly spectacle of strange marine life, more than 100 feet deep on the Antarctic seabed.

The incredible photo shows a tree-shaped sponge draped with giant ribbon worms and sea stars.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Laurent Ballesta/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Shooting Star” by Tony Wu, U.S./Japan | Winner: Underwater

Photographer Tony Wu found himself stuck in a tiny, enclosed bay, the surrounding water filling with sperm and eggs from a giant sea star as he worked to snap the creature’s “electrifying” dance. It was a tight squeeze, but worth it, scooping Wu a top prize in the underwater category.

The galaxy-like scene shows the sea star’s “dancing posture” to help release eggs and sperm in the water.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Tony Wu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“A Theatre of Birds” by Mateusz Piesiak, Poland | Winner: Rising Star Portfolio Award

Rising Star Portfolio Award winner Mateusz Piesiak, who as a young teen got out exploring his local cityscape during pandemic lockdowns, took remarkable shots of local birds.

He placed his remote camera on the mud of the reed bed and captured the moment when a passing peregrine falcon caused some of the dunlins to fly up.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Mateusz Piesiak/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“The Great Cliff Chase” by Anand Nambiar, India | Winner: Behavior – Mammals

Indian photographer Anand Nambiar captured the brilliant moment when a snow leopard was charging a herd of Himalayan ibex towards a steep edge. The photo was shot at the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Anand Nambiar/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Check more of the winning photos below:

“Spectacled Bear’s Slim Outlook” by Daniel Mideros, Ecuador | Winner: Animals in Their Environment

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Daniel Mideros/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“Puff Perfect” by José Juan Hernández Martinez, Spain | Winner: Animal Portraits

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(José Juan Hernández Martinez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“The Listening Bird” by Nick Kanakis, US | Winner: Behavior – Birds

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Nick Kanakis/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“The Dying Lake” by Daniel Núñez, Guatemala | Winner: Wetlands – The Bigger Picture

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Daniel Núñez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“The Magical Morels” by Agorastos Papatsanis, Greece | Winner: Plants and Fungi

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
(Agorastos Papatsanis/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

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Epoch Inspired staff cover stories of hope that celebrate kindness, traditions, and triumph of the human spirit, offering valuable insights into life, culture, family and community, and nature.
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