Michel Bega

Compiled by Michel Bega

Multimedia Editor

PICTURES: Wildlife Photographer of the Year

‘Ice Bed,” Nima Sarikhani’s dreamy image of a young polar bear drifting to sleep on a bed carved into an iceberg, has been voted as the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

The 25 images in the running for this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award received a record number of votes with over 75 000 wildlife photography and nature fans from around the world casting their votes to name British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani this year’s winner.

Director of the Natural History Museum Dr Douglas Gurr says: “Nima’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet. His thought-provoking image is a stark reminder of the integral bond between an animal and its habitat and serves as a visual representation of the detrimental impacts of climate warming and habitat loss.”

FOR MORE INFO: The People’s Choice Award

After three days searching for polar bears through thick fog off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the expedition vessel Sarikhani was on, decided to change course and headed towards where there was still some sea ice.

There they encountered two polar bears. Just before midnight, the young male clambered onto a small iceberg and, using his strong paws, clawed away at it to carve out a bed. 

Sarikhani captured the dreamlike moment the young bear drifted off to sleep. 

Sarikhani says: “This photograph has stirred strong emotions in many of those who have seen it. While climate change is the biggest challenge we face, I hope that this photograph also inspires hope; there is still time to fix the mess we have caused.” 

The four Highly Commended finalists who also captivated wildlife lovers across the globe include “The Happy Turtle” by Tzahi Finkelstein, a fascinating interaction between a Balkan pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonfly, and “Starling Murmuration” by Daniel Dencescu, which frames the moment a starling murmuration formed the shape of a bird. 

Two lionesses groom one of the pride’s five cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara in Mark Boyd’s “Shared Parenting”, and Audun Rikardsen’s stunning capture “Aurora Jellies” shows two moon jellyfish illuminated by the aurora borealis in a fjord in Norway. 

Sarikhani’s image and the four Highly Commended images were selected from a shortlist of 25 images chosen by the Natural History Museum, London, and an international judging panel from almost 50 000 images submitted. 

The five images will be displayed both online and in the accompanying exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, until 30 June. 

Wildlife Photographer of the Year shines a light on inspiring stories from the natural world to create advocates for the planet.

The annual competition for amateur and professional photographers of all ages from around the world uses photography’s unique emotive power to connect people with nature. Images entered are judged by an international panel of experts.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
The Happy Turtle by Tzahi Finkelstein received a Special Award: People’s Choice. A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley. Finkelstein was positioned in his hide photographing shore birds when he spotted a Balkan pond turtle walking in the shallow water. At first, he wasn’t interested in it and carried on watching the birds. It wasn’t until a northern banded groundling dragonfly flew past his lens in the direction of the turtle that his focus changed. The dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose, but instead of snapping up the insect, the turtle appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment in the midst of the swamp’s murky waters. Picture: Tzahi Finkelstein/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
Shared Parenting by Mark Boyd received a Special Award: People’s Choice. Early in the morning, Boyd watched as these lionesses groomed one of the pride’s five cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. They had set off to hunt the evening before, leaving the cubs hidden overnight in dense bushes. Returning from their unsuccessful mission, they’d called the cubs out onto the open grassland. Females raise each other’s cubs as their own, sharing parenting duties. Here the youngster was clearly enjoying the moment of affection and attention. Picture: Mark Boyd/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
Starling Murmuration by Daniel Dencescu received a Special Award: People’s Choice. Dencescu was mesmerised by the movements of the starlings as they formed colossal organic shapes in the sky. Each day, as they returned from foraging, they would gather in large numbers and perform spellbinding aerial shows, known as murmurations, on their flight home to their communal roosts. In a bid to locate the best roosting sites at which to capture the spectacle, Dencescu spent hours following the starlings around the city and suburbs of Rome. Finally, on this cloudless winter’s day, the flock didn’t disappoint, swirling into the shape of a giant bird. Picture: Daniel Dencescu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
Aurora Jellies by Audun Rikardsen received a Special Award: People’s Choice. Moon jellyfish swarm in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromso in northern Norway illuminated by the aurora borealis. Sheltering his equipment in a self-made waterproof housing, Rikardsen used a single exposure as well as his own system for adjusting the focus and aperture during the exposure. This enabled him to capture the reflection of the sky’s colours in the surface of the water and at the same time light up the jellyfish with flashes. Moon jellyfish are common in all oceans and are easily recognised by their four rings, which are in fact their genitals. Picture: Audun Rikardsen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

VIDEO and PICTURES: Michael Jackson HIStory tribute show at Joburg Theatre

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits