Winners and Finalists of the 2021 Nature inFocus Photography contest

On Monday, November 22nd, winners and runners up were announced via a live YouTube stream for the latest Nature inFocus Photography competition. Over 2,000 photographers from 40 countries submitted close to 18,000 photographs. The annual event showcases creative wildlife photography, animal portraits, creative nature shots, and more.

For the first time in the competition’s history, an Overall Winner was not named as the jury felt it was too hard to choose. A gallery of the winning and finalist images can be found on Nature inFocus Photography’s site.

Winner, Animal Portraits: ‘City Lights’ by Mohammad Murad

Description: The photographer spent more than two months observing and documenting the behavior of Arabian Red Fox families near their dens in the Kuwait region. Although scared at first, the foxes became more comfortable around his presence after frequent visits. They even began to emerge from their dens when they heard the sound of his car and came close enough to inspect his camera gear.

Location: Kuwait

Runner-up, Animal Portraits: ‘The King’s Feast’ by Panos Laskarakis

Description: During his visit to the Okavango Delta, the photographer chanced upon a pride of lions hunting buffalos. The next night, a pack of 30 hyenas tried to steal the kill from the lions. The place reverberated with roars and howls as a ferocious battle ensued. This image was made the following day when a lone lion was feeding on one of the carcasses.

Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana

Second Runner-up, Animal Portraits: ‘Pay Through The Nose’ by Lakshitha Karunarathna

Description: Can being nosy also be beneficial? The Yellow-billed Oxpecker says, yes! The bird can be seen perched on the nose of African Water Buffalos, from where it gains an endless buffet of insects and parasites. The giant bovids, in return, gain protection from ticks. Talk about win-win!

Location: Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Winner, Wildscape & Animals in Habitat: ‘The Resting Monarch’ by Lakshitha Karunarathna

Description: A gigantic kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies sits huddled together on Oyamel Fir trees in the overwintering grounds in the mountains of central Mexico. The tall tree canopy in the cool mountain climate provides a blanket effect, ensuring that temperatures don’t go too high or low, protecting the monarchs.

Location: El Rosario Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Runner-up, Wildscape & Animals in Habitat: ‘Bear In The Woods’ by Divya Dwaraknath

Description: The photographer was scanning the dry, dense vegetation from the boundary of the tourist and core zone of the reserve, when what looked like a black rock suddenly came into view. For a brief second, through the camera lens, she saw a giant ball of fur looking back at her. One quick snap, and the Sloth Bear was gone!

Location: Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka

Winner, Creative Nature Photography: ‘Northern Lights’ by Prathamesh Ghadekar

Description: The spores of a bracket fungus (Polypores) create a vast spectrum of colors when lit from an angle. The photographer came across fungi growing on a dead tree log and was amazed by the colors his flashlight picked up. Over two nights, with the wind and the speed of spore release occasionally combining in his favor, he was able to create the image he had pre-visualized.

The photographer flipped the image horizontally to create a wide frame that looked like a landscape shot of Stonehenge-like structures against a gorgeous night sky decorated by the Northern Lights.

Location: Ajoba Parvat, Maharashtra

Runner-up, Creative Nature Photography: ‘Rush Hour’ by Magnus Lundgren

Description: An underwater shot of a pack of Chum Salmons running up a cold Alaskan creek as they force their way to the sacred reproduction grounds in Prince William Sound. During their perilous journey from the ocean to the stream (where they hatched) to spawn, sometimes, these salmon go through passages with water levels so low they can’t even breathe, but they keep going!

Once at their spawning ground, these fearless females lay thousands of eggs inside a pit they dig with their powerful tails. The eggs are often fertilized by different males. As her last duty servicing the circle of life, she guards her egg until she dies.

Location: Prince William Sound, Alaska

Special Mention, Creative Nature Photography: ‘Blue Symphony’ by Kallol Mukherjee

Description: Under an azure sky, a flock of Grandalas cascade down the snow powdered peaks of upper Lachen in Sikkim in notes of blue and grey. Mesmerised by thousands of these rare birds flying over the Lachen River from one tree to another, the photographer captured this multi-exposure image, utilising the light coming in through the alpine forests of the region.

Location: North Sikkim

Winner, Young Photographer: ‘Hop Into The Limelight’ by Anagha Mohan

Description: Anagha is a staunch believer that one doesn’t have to travel far to photograph wildlife. She loves to spend time shooting insects in and around her locality. This surreal image of a grasshopper resting on a flowering plant was shot in a park on the city outskirts.

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka

Runner-up, Young Photographer: ‘Spider Dreams’ by Anirudh Kamakeri

Description: Most orb-weaver spiders weave a new web every day and tend to be active during the evening hours. Having observed the spider every evening on the terrace of his house, the photographer vizualised this in-camera multi-exposure image, creating a beautiful bokeh from the street lights and signboards and framing the silhouette of the spider within.

Location: Dharwad, Karnataka

Winner, Conservation Issues: ‘Evicted’ by Mahisin Khan

Description: A lone Gharial is portrayed against the backdrop of construction work, highlighting their changing habitats. Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, Gharials were once present in all major rivers in the country. They are now found in only two per cent of their original range. Habitat degradation, hunting for skin and traditional medicines are some of the biggest threats to this critically endangered species.

Location: Bihar

Runner-up, Conservation Issues: ‘This Divided Land’ by Gnaneswar CH

Description: Did you know that about 58,000 people die due to snakebites every year in India? Here is one of the ‘big four’—a Russell’s Viper—making its way through a paddy field as women continue to do their work. The ‘big four’ refers to the four venomous reptile species that contribute to the maximum number of snakebite incidents. In rural areas, these venomous snakes live in close proximity to humans, and awareness becomes imperative to reduce the occurrence of such incidents.

Location: Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu

Special Mention, Conservation Issues: ‘Collateral Damage’ by Deven Mehta

Description: An abandoned kite string claims the lives of a River Tern adult and chick. Despite a ban on kite strings made of abrasive materials such as glass powder and metal, kite flying events lead to several birds getting trapped, injured or killed.

Location: Bhavnagar, Gujarat

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