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‘Full of wonder’: The best nature and animal photos of 2022 revealed

Several of the thought-provoking images show animals interacting with human environments

Lucy Thackray
Wednesday 14 December 2022 10:36 GMT

The winners of the international Nature Photographer of the Year 2022 have been unveiled, with a Russian photographer claiming first prize.

Dmitry Kokh took a striking image of two polar bears peering out from a derelict cottage, on the small, remote island of Kolyuchin off the coast of Siberia.

“In September ’21 we went on a long-awaited trip to Chukotka and Wrangel Island,” said Mr Kokh.

“We sailed along the coast and covered more than 1,200 miles of untouched landscapes, villages lost in time, spots with various fauna, and seas full of life. One day, bad weather was expected, so our captain approached a small island, Kolyuchin, to take shelter from the storm.

“The stormy wind, rain, and neglected buildings on the rocky shores all made everything appear super surreal. Suddenly, we noticed movement in the windows of the houses. Someone took out some binoculars and we saw the heads of polar bears!”

Mr Kokh runs an IT company and says photography is a hobby rather than a day job. He wins a €3,000 cash prize.

The competition is open to professional and amateur entrants all over the world, with winners cropping up in Europe, Asia, the US and Africa.

Other winners in the competition were divided into categories including birds, mammals, underwater, plants and fungi, black and white, human and nature and youth (for entrants aged 10-17).

Highly commended in the latter category was Thai high school student, Jomtup Charoenlapnumchai, who captured a striking image of a Bryde’s whale surfacing in the Gulf of Thailand, with Bangkok’s skyscrapers in the background.

The “human and nature” category unearthed some of the most arresting images, with one distressing photo showing three people on a motorbike colliding with a leopard in India’s Ranthambore National Park.

Photographer Sridhar Sivaram describes the dramatic moment, saying the leopard escaped but was injured. “I got ready with my camera, and in no time the leopard jumped from the bushes onto the main road to quickly cross the road and get to the other side of the jungle.

“Unfortunately, exactly at the same time, there was a bike with two pillion riders that was coming down the slope. The leopard crashed onto the bike, the bike rider lost control, and skidded down with the leopard coming under the bike and the three persons.

“We were all in shock, but my photographer instinct ensured that I captured the entire event on my camera with multiple shots. Within seconds we saw the leopard emerge from the back, rushed to the other side, and vanished into the jungle.”

The runner-up in the “human and nature” field was Swiss photographer Tamani Cédric, with a dramatic photo of the bright pink salt mines in Swakopmund, Namibia, entitled “Flamingo airport”.

A statement from the awards organiser said: “Our judges reviewed more than 20,000 images which was a tough but great job. They saw the most amazing images, some sad and cruel, some full of wonder. It was clear that nature photography is alive and kicking in all its forms.”

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