November 1st, 2018

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 Competition

Written by:

James Handley


News and Offers


We get very excited around June every year when the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition shortlist is released. 

With a very strong presence from Africa, the 2018 competition did not disappoint!

The photos are were displayed at the National History Museum in London in November 2018. We’ve shown some of our favourites below:

Highly commended (Behaviour: Mammals)

Ahead in the game by Nicholas Dyer, UK

A pair of African wild dog pups play a macabre game of tag with the head of a chacma baboon – the remains of their breakfast. The endangered African wild dog (aka the painted hunting dog) is best known for hunting antelopes, such as impalas and kudus. 

But over the past five years, in Mana Pools National Park, northern Zimbabwe, three different packs have regularly killed and eaten baboons – highly unusual, not least because baboons are capable of inflicting severe wounds.

Nicholas Dyer/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended (Behaviour: Birds)

Flight by Sue Forbes, UK

A single juvenile red-footed booby, circling northeast of D’Arros Island in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. These ocean going birds – the smallest booby species, with a metre-wide (3-foot) wingspan – spend most of their time at sea, flying long distances with ease. 

Sharp-eyed, they swoop down to seize prey, mainly squid and flying fish. Their bodies are streamlined for plunge diving – nostrils closed and wings pinned back – and nimble enough to grab flying fish in mid-air.

Sue Forbes/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Grand title winner (15-17 years)

Lounging leopard by Skye Meaker, South Africa

Old Mathoja was dozing when they finally found her, lying along a low branch of a nyala tree in Botswana’s Mashatu Game Reserve. Mathoja means ‘the one that walks with a limp’ injured when she was a cub, but otherwise she is a healthy, calm eight-year-old. 

The morning light was poor, leaves kept blowing across her face, and her eyes were only ever open briefly, making it hard for Skye to compose the shot he was after. Finally, a shaft of light gave a glint to her eyes, helping him to create his memorable portrait.

Skye Meaker/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended (Animal Portraits)

Cool cat by Isak Pretorius, South Africa

A lioness drinks from a waterhole in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. She is one of the Mfuwe Lodge pride – two males, five females and five cubs. 

Lions kill more than 95 per cent of their prey at night and may spend 18–20 hours resting.

Isak Pretorius/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended (Creative Visions)

The Upside-Down Flamingos by Paul Mckenzie, Ireland/Hong Kong

Lying prone in a quagmire of thick, gooey mud, Paul spent an hour quietly nudging closer to this flock of flamingos. Eventually, he focused on the birds’ red legs, framing the shot to include their reflection. In post-production he rotated the image 180 degrees to create, as he describes, ‘a more abstract reflective image’.

Lesser flamingos find safety in numbers and tend to gather in large groups to protect themselves against predators. They feed almost entirely on blue-green algae, but will also feed on crustaceans. Gathering food by holding their beaks upside down in the water, they often synchronise, raising and lowering their heads to feed in orchestrated mass movements.

Paul Mckenzie/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner (Behaviour: Mammals)

Kuhirwa mourns her baby by Ricardo Núñez Montero, Spain

Kuhirwa, a young female of the Nkuringo mountain gorilla family in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, would not give up on her dead baby. What Ricardo first thought to be a bundle of roots turned out to be the tiny corpse. Guides told him that she had given birth during bad weather and the baby probably died of cold. 

At first Kuhirwa had cuddled and groomed the body, carrying it piggyback. Weeks later, she started to eat what was left of the corpse, behaviour the guide had only seen once before.

Ricardo Núñez Montero/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner (Plants and Fungi)

Desert relic by Jen Guyton, Germany/US

The cones of a female welwitschia reach for the skies over the Namib Desert in Namibia. These desert survivors have an extraordinary biology. Male and female plants both produce distinctive cones. Each plant comprises just two leaves, a stem base and a tap root.

The woody stem stops growing at the apex but widens with age, forming a concave disc, but the two original seedling leaves continue to grow, gradually splitting and fraying. The largest specimens span more than 8 metres (26 feet) and may be 1,000 years old or more.

Jen Guyton/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended (Behaviour: Mammals)

The meerkat mob by Tertius A Gous, South Africa

When an Anchieta’s cobra reared its head and moved towards two meerkat pups near their warren on Namibia’s Brandberg Mountain, the rest of the pack – foraging nearby – reacted almost instantly. Rushing back, the group split into two: one group grabbed the pups and huddled a safe distance away, the other took on the snake.

Tails raised, the mob edged forwards, growling. When the snake lunged, they sprang back. This was repeated over and over for about 10 minutes. Finally, the cobra gave up and disappeared

Tertius-A-Gous/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner (Earth’s Environments)

Windsweep by Orlando Fernandez Miranda, Spain

At the top of the dune, Orlando faced a trio of weather elements: a fierce northeasterly wind, warm afternoon sunshine and a dense ocean fog. Using the sharp ridge of sand in front of him as a focal point, he kept the sweep of dunes to his right in focus, leaving the distant coastal landscape, hidden behind a curtain of fog, a mystery.

A mix of fog and sunshine is not unusual on Namibia's Skeleton Coast. Cool winds from the Benguela Current – an ocean current that flows northwards – mix with the arid climate of the Namib Desert to create thick fog. The moisture from this fog spills inland and is vital to the survival of many plants and insects.

Orlando Fernandez Miranda/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended (Earth’s Environments)

Delta Design by Paul Mckenzie, Ireland/Hong Kong

‘I love images where nature can be depicted as art,’ says Paul. At first glance you might think this is an image of a fern. But it is actually an intricate river delta. As his small plane flew over the scene one final time, Paul framed his shot through the open door, battling against turbulence to capture nature’s silt and water composition.

Flowing south through Kenya, the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River empties into the salt-rich waters of Lake Natron, a major breeding site for hundreds of thousands of lesser flamingos. The birds rely on the river’s fresh water for drinking, as well as for cleaning the hypersaline lake water from their feathers.

Paul Mckenzie/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner (Wildlife Photographer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award)

Chimpanzee by Frans Lanting, The Netherlands

Seeking relief from the intense summer heat, a male chimpanzee prepares to enter a seasonal pool in a remote corner of West Africa. I joined researchers there conducting a first study of chimps who live in open savanna woodlands—rather than deep forest—and was able to document behaviour never photographed before.

Frans Lanting/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

If these photos have inspired you, dust down your camera and start snapping! We'd love to see some of your best shots.

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel Team

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