Wildlife photo of the year a 'big buzz' 2
A ball of male cactus bees tightly wound around a female. Photo by Karine Aigner/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife photo of the year is a 'big buzz'

The Natural History Museum in London has announced the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Young Wildlife Photographer awards. Here's a selection of the best shots.
Manasi Gopalakrishnan, Deutsche Welle | Oct 13 2022

The Natural History Museum in London has revealed the winners of its annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which will be on show at the museum from October 14 until July 2, 2023.

US photographer Karine Aigner won this year's top title with a photo that shows several bees balled up together with a couple of others flying around.

Called "The big buzz," the photograph was taken on a Texas ranch. According to a press release from the prize organizers, the bees were intent on mating with a single female at the center. Like many bee species, these cactus bees are threatened by climate change and loss of habitat as well as farming practices that disrupt their nesting grounds, the statement said.

Karin Aigner is the fifth woman in the competition's history to have won the top award in the adult category.

'The beauty of baleen' by Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn
'The beauty of baleen' by Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn, a 16-year-old from Thailand, won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 title, for his intriguing image of a Bryde's whale's open mouth.

The photo focuses on the contrast between the whale's dark skin, pink gum and the brush-like mass of baleen hanging from its top jaw. Baleen are filter-feeding systems inside the mouths of baleen whales. The photograph is called "The beauty of baleen."

'The bat-snatcher' by Fernando Constantino Martinez
'The bat-snatcher' by Fernando Constantino Martinez

"The bat-snatcher," another winning photo, was taken by Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar using a red light, which both bats and snakes are less sensitive to. 

Belmar kept his eye on the Yucatan rat snake poking out of a crack. He had just seconds to get the shot as the rat snake pounced, snatching a bat out of mid-air before retreating into its crevice with its prey, the Natural History Museum said on its website.

"What made the image for me is the timing — the speed and alertness of the snake, the bat with its mouth left open and both predator and prey half-hung in air," said wildlife filmmaker Sugandhi Gadadhar.

'Heavenly flamingos' by Junji Takasago
'Heavenly flamingos' by Junji Takasago

Titled "Heavenly Flamingos," this photograph was taken by Junji Takasago. Takasago braved through altitude sickness high in the Andes to capture the image. 

Salar de Uyuni, in southwest Bolivia, is the world's largest salt pan and is known as the "mirror in the sky." These otherworldly salt flats are the legacy of an expansive lake that has long since evaporated. The salt pan is also home to one of Bolivia's largest lithium mines, which is threatening the future of the area's flamingos, according to the Natural History Museum.

'Ndakasi's Passing' by Brent Stirton
'Ndakasi's Passing' by Brent Stirton

This photo was taken by South African Brent Stirton, who captured the last moments of a beloved mountain gorilla called Ndakasi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The judges combed through more than 38,500 entries from 93 countries. The Natural History Museum is also releasing a book with 150 pictures that won in various categories of this year's competition.

The exhibition of the photographs will go on to tour international venues, including in Switzerland, Australia, Canada, USA, France, Germany and New Zealand.

Talking about the annual event, Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum said: "Wildlife photographers offer us unforgettable glimpses into the lives of wild species, sharing unseen details, fascinating behaviors and frontline reporting on the climate and biodiversity crises. These images demonstrate their awe of and appreciation for the natural world and the urgent need to take action to protect it."

Edited by: Elizabeth Grenier