Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 Competition Showcases The Year’s Most Incredible Images

by Jon D. B.

From toxic waste turning a river neon to a majestic lioness dripping with blood, 2021’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year shots are like nothing we’ve seen before.

“It was the overall quality of entries that took us by surprise,” says Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel for the 57th Wildlife Photographer of the Year in a press release. The competition, run by The Natural History Museum in London, has just made a selection of “highly commended” shots public. And as Cox says – they are truly special.

“With most travel plans cancelled over the past year, photographers seem to have spent extra time considering what gems to submit,” the chairman adds. “The result is a collection of both thought-provoking images and ones that, in these dark times, remind us of the joy and wonder to be had from nature.”

  1. Norwegian photographer Audun Rikardsen’s image of a slick of dead and dying herrings, also used as evidence in a court case.
  2. US photographer Jonny Armstrong captures a red fox searching for salmon carcasses in Alaska.
  3. Spanish photographer Sergio Marijuán captures an Iberian lynx in the doorway of an abandoned hayloft in the Sierra Morena.
  4. A lioness dripping with bright red blood via British photographer Lara Jackson in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
  5. Mangrove swamps provide a buffer between Kakinada city and the sea in Andhra Pradesh, India, via Indian photographer Rakesh Pulapa.
  6. French photographer Laurent Ballesta finds thousands of narwhal shrimp in the French Mediterranean deep.
  7. Wei Fu, from Thailand, captures the struggle between a golden tree snake and a red-spotted tokay gecko.
  8. Sri Lankan-Australian photographer Buddhilini de Soyza captures male cheetahs struggling to cross a flooding, raging river.
  9. An Apollo butterfly lands on an oxeye daisy in the Haut-Jura Regional Nature Park, eastern France, via French photographer Emelin Dupieux.
  10. US photographer Jack Zhi shows a young white-tailed kite taking a live mouse from its father in mid-air.
  11. Romanian photographer Gheorghe Popa captures a small river in the Apuseni Mountains, neon with vivid colors due to toxic waste.
  12. Sri Lankan photographer Gagana Mendis Wickramasinghe’s image shows a male rose-ringed parakeet feeding three chicks.
  13. Spanish photographer Jaime Culebras spots this tarantula hawk wasp dragging a tarantula up his fridge in Quito, Ecuador.
  14. German-Australian photographer Juergen Freund captures haunting ghost fungus after monsoon rains near his home in Queensland, Australia.
  15. An orphan gray-headed flying fox resting via Australian photographer Douglas Gimesy.

Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition Shines in 2021

An unbelievable 50,000 submissions would come to London via wildlife photographers from 95 countries. Among them, industry experts will judge on “creativity, originality, and also technical excellence” to declare finalists.

“These extraordinary images showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth and also spark curiosity and wonder,” adds director of the Natural History Museum Doug Gurr in their press release.

“Telling the story of a planet under pressure…The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition illuminates the urgent challenges we face and the collective action we need to take,” Gurr concludes.

These images, however, are finalists. The announcement for winning photographers will come on October 12. Winners will also feature in an exhibition that same month.

Congratulations to all wildlife photographers recognized so far! Truly inspiring work.