The winning shots capture nature at its most glorious, and offer a timely reminder about the pressing need to conserve it
The US photographer Karine Aigner has been declared Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 for her remarkable shot of a buzzing ball of cactus bees spinning over the hot sand in Texas.
The beautifully composed close-up (main image) captures the moment a group of male bees compete with each other to mate with a single female. After a few minutes, the pair at the centre of the buzzing ball flew off together.
The annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is run by the Natural History Museum in London, where an exhibition to accompany the award opened at the weekend. Aigner is only the fifth woman in the competition’s 58-year history to receive the top prize.
Of the winning image, chair of the jury, the writer and editor Rosamund Kidman Cox OBE, said: “The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female.”
Sixteen-year-old Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn from Thailand was crowned Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 for his image, dubbed ‘the beauty of baleen’.
The shot (below) was taken when a Bryde’s whale surfaced close to the boat Katanyou was sailing on. The young photographer was intrigued by the contrasting colours and textures of its dark skin, pink gum and the brush-like mass of baleen hanging down from its top jaw.
Like other baleen whales, Bryde’s use a technique known as lunge-feeding to capture large numbers of small schooling fish and use the plates of baleen to filter the small prey from the ocean.
Dr 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 behaviours and front-line 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.”
See the other category winners below, clicking on the images for details about them.
Winning shots: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
Main image: Karine Aigner/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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