Winners Of World Nature Photography Awards Share Thrilling Pictures

The winners for this year’s World Nature Photography Awards have been announced and is privileged to be able to share the astounding images with you.

Every year, the World Nature Photography Awards (WNPAs) select winners from a breath-taking array of entries from around the world. For 2021, thirteen categories highlight subjects such as People and Nature, Urban Wildlife, and Animal Portraits for a total of 39 winning images.

This year’s grand prize went to Amos Nachoum for his stunning image of a leopard seal and Gentoo penguin that took Gold in the Behavior Mammals category.

© Amos Nachoum / World Nature Photography Awards

Nachoum waited patiently for hours on the remote island of Plano, off the Antarctic Peninsula, for the right moment at low tide to capture the leopard seals stealthily entering a lagoon and searching for their prey. This one found a helpless Gentoo penguin.

Nachoum says of his photo, “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.”

First place, Animals in their habitat, Bornean Orangutan.

© Thomas Vijayan / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Black and White. An Arctic fox walks through a snowstorm in Iceland.

© Vince Burton / World Nature Photography Awards

Second place, Animal Portraits. Brown bear mother and her cubs.

© Neelutpaul Barua / World Nature Photography Awards

“Brown bear cubs, like all other young ones, are extremely playful and curious and the mothers have to find ways to curtail their bursts of energy. This mother bear had had a long day of fishing, providing for herself and her cubs,” writes Neelutpaul Barua.

“When she sat down close to catch some rest, the two cubs continued to play. By lying down on the ground, I could capture an eye-level frame that vividly captured the expression of a watchful mother and the carefree nature of her cubs.”

Second place, Behavior—Mammals. Two bull elephants spar with each other in Amboseli National Park, in Kenya.

© William Fortescue / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Behavior—Invertebrates. Red ants.

These common red ants create an “ant bridge” to traverse the water, showing how they cleverly overcome obstacles.

© Teo Chin Leong / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Urban Wildlife. Humpback Whale.

© Matthijs Noome / World Nature Photography Awards

“I finally got the shot I wanted: a humpback’s fluke with the downtown New York City skyline in the distance,” says Matthijs Noome. “As water-quality measures and conservation efforts have started to show real results over the past few years, humpback whales have become a more and more common sight in New York waters.”

Second place, Urban Wildlife. Arabian red fox kit.

“Framed by the glow of street lights along Kuwait City, an Arabian red fox kit explores the night just outside its den. Arabian red foxes usually breed in the desert far away from humans; this is a really rare case that I monitored for almost three months,” says Mohammad Murad.

© Mohammad Murad / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Behavior—Amphibians and Reptiles. Pacific tree frog on a flower.

“This shot came out of a ‘nothing’ outing to a local park,” says Shayne Kaye of his venture to Outerbridge Park in Victoria, Canada. “It was the middle of a sunny summer day with harsh light and little activity.”

“After going out with low expectations, I came across this tiny Pacific tree frog on a flower…It proved to me that there’s really no bad time to head into nature with a camera!

© Shayne Kaye / World Nature Photography Awards.

First place, Animal Portraits. Long-tailed macaques.

© Tom Vierus / World Nature Photography Awards

“Three long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) enjoy the warmth of each other during a hot day in Bali, Indonesia,” writes Tom Vierus. “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.”

First place, Nature Art. Countryside of San Quirico d’Orcia, in Tuscany, Italy.

© Riccardo Testi / World Nature Photography Awards

Second place, Behavior—Birds. A flock of red-billed queleas take flight at Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.

© Robert J. Ross / World Nature Photography Awards

Second place, Behavior—Invertebrates. Hawk Moth

© Lincoln Macgregor / World Nature Photography Awards

This hawk moth emerged after sunset to sip nectar from garden flowers, always hovering in mid-air as it fed in the dim glow of the surrounding houselights. Over several weeks in summer, multitudes of these moths emerge to do the same each night,” describes Lincoln Macgregor of the scene in New South Wales, Australia.

“In the evening light these hawk moths can be difficult to notice; however, their audible wingbeats give away their arrival. It’s exciting to see that around homes in urban gardens, certain forms of wildlife can still thrive.

Third place, Animal Portraits. A female puma and her cubs in Patagonia.

© Amit Eshel / World Nature Photography Awards

First Place, People and nature. Ice cave, Lake Baikal, Russia.

© Sabrina Inderbitzi / World Nature Photography Awards

Second place, Black and White

© Avanka Fernando / World Nature Photography Awards

Toque macaque being fed by its mother in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka.

Second place, Behavior – Amphibians and reptiles. American crocodile.

© Massimo Giorgetta / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Behavior—Mammals. Cheetahs.

© Buddhilini de Soyza / World Nature Photography Awards

Monstrous rains in Kenya’s Masai Mara in January 2020 caused one of the major rivers to flood and become larger and more violent than ever before. This group—the world’s only recorded coalition of five male cheetahs—was looking to cross the river amid terrifyingly powerful currents,” writes Buddhilini de Soyza.

“After hours of careful searching along the banks, they suddenly jumped into the water and began trying to swim across this maelstrom as we watched, terrified they would be washed away or eaten by crocodiles. Their aim was to cross over to the other side, which was part of their territory and full of game. We screamed with delight as we saw them finally cross over about 100 meters downstream from where they jumped.”

First place, Plants and fungi.

© Gautam Kamat Bambolkar / World Nature Photography Awards

“Entrance to a room inside an abandoned house in Goa, India. It is fascinating how mother nature takes over from where man has left.”

Second place, Nature Art. Pumice stone field, Argentina.

© Alessandro Gruzza / World Nature Photography Awards

“The Argentinian puna is a remote wilderness of pure beauty and strong diversity. Nature has shaped the land in such a different way with amazing colors and textures. The Pumice Stone Field is a giant deposit of white pumice formed by the eruption of a volcano dated 15 millions of years ago.”

“The porous stone pops up between the volcanic sand in the foreground and the strongly eroded mountains in the background, rising above the desert plateau at 3,300 meters.”

Third place, Behavior – Amphibians and reptiles. American crocodile.

© Patrick Nowotny / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Animals in Their Habitat. Polar Bear

“A solitary female polar bear slowly wandered along the ice edge in front of a huge glacial wall nestled in the bay of Isbukta on the eastern coast of Svalbard,” writes Christian Tuckwell-Smith of the photo he took from a nearby zodiac boat.

“This enormous bear was put into perspective by the towering glacier and gave a sense of the vastness of the icy wilderness. Although this scene was stunning, it also seemed a poignant one; a glacier and a polar bear – two icons of the Arctic with uncertain futures in the face of climate change.”

© Christian Tuckwell-Smith / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Behavior – Birds

© Ashok Behera / World Nature Photography Awards

A wildebeest’s eyes being gorged by an African vulture, keenly watched by an African fox for an opportunity to scavenge. Taken at Masai Mara, Kenya.

Second place, Animals in their habitat. Juvenile California sea lion.

© Celia Kujala / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Urban Wildlife

© Alex Pansier / World Nature Photography Awards

A fox in an industrial area in the Netherlands.

First place, Planet Earth’s landscapes and environments

© Sam Wilson / World Nature Photography Awards

“Travelling down random dirt roads can be so rewarding when you are greeted with scenes like this,” says Sam Wilson of his shot taken on South Island, New Zealand.

Third place, Behavior – Invertebrates

© Irina Petrova / World Nature Photography Awards

Green huntsman spider (Micrommata virescens) and a vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster)

Third place, Nature Art. Lettuce coral.

© Gabriel Barathieu / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Planet Earth’s landscapes and environments. Ice falls, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

© Rie Asada / World Nature Photography Awards

First place, Nature photojournalism.

© Alain Schroeder / World Nature Photography Awards

Sibolangit, SOCP Quarantine Centre, North Sumatra, Indonesia. The entire SOCP Quarantine Centre team in Indonesia works together to prepare Brenda, an estimated 3-month-old female orangutan (she has no teeth yet), for surgery. During the three-hour procedure, Dr. Andreas Messikommer, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon invited from Switzerland, will place a pin and screws to secure the damaged humerus.

Brenda was confiscated from a villager in Blang Pidie on the west coast of Aceh who was keeping her as a pet.

Second place, Nature photojournalism. Hotel sewage pipe, Maldives.

© Alexej Sachov / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Black and White

© Michael Stavrakakis / World Nature Photography Awards

A family of Asiatic elephants in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

Second place, People and Nature. Scuba diver with a school of mackerel.

© Mike Eyett / World Nature Photography Awards

Third place, Nature photojournalism.

© Bence Mate / World Nature Photography Awards

Frogs and toads with legs removed for human consumption in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania

Third place, People and Nature

© Dr Gaetano Gargiulo / World Nature Photography Awards

A discarded beer bottle as the home of a blenny nest.

Third place, Behavior – Birds

© Robert Maynard / World Nature Photography Awards

“The black Cormorant has been special to me, since my very first ever experience of photographing this magnificent creature,” writes Robert Maynard. “An hour before sunrise, with my gear set up, I was ready and waiting on the jetty overlooking the lake. The sun rose, its powerful light burning through the morning mist – it looked magical.”

Third place, Plants and fungi.

© Jan Czeczotka / World Nature Photography Awards

Panaeolus papilionaceus fungi on his habitat, on cow dung, in Bavaria, Germany.

Second place, Plants and fungi.

© Vladislav Tasev / World Nature Photography Awards

Young pine, covered with snow in Central Stara Planinia in Bulgaria

Second place, Nature Art. Dandelions.

© Monika Schneider / World Nature Photography Awards

2021’s competition saw entries come in from 20 countries across 6 continents.

“As always, it’s such a thrill to see the amazing calibre of entries into the awards,” said Adrian Dinsdale, co-founder of the WNPAs. “Seeing these images cannot fail to motivate one to do everything to protect this fragile planet of ours. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners.”

Visit the World Nature Photography Awards (WNPAs) to find out more about the competition. You can also view photographs on Twitter @wnphotoawards and Facebook and Instagram @worldnaturephotographyawards.

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links.