Maternal stink bug beats 18,000 photos to claim the 2023 GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year award

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023
Maternal Care - Overall winner [Sony A7R IV, Laowa 2.8/25mm, flash with diffuser, ISO 320] (Image credit: Javiar Aznar Gonzalez De Reuda)

The European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, organized by the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT), illuminates the beauty and wonder of the natural world through the lens of passionate photographers. Renowned worldwide for its celebration of nature photography this year an impressive 18,000 photographs from 42 countries were entered. 

Spanish Photographer Javier Aznar González de Rueda was crowned European Nature Photographer of the Year 2023 for his image Maternal Care capturing the intricate behavior of a brood stink bug in Ecuador's Yasuní National Park. For two weeks, Javiar carefully observed a female stink bug guarding her eggs and newly hatched larvae revealing its remarkable maternal instincts. 

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Nighttime Squadron [Nikon D500, Nikkor 8-15mm, ISO 1000, Nauticam underwater housing, 2 Retra UW strobes] (Image credit: Catherine Holmes)

On winning the award, Javier Aznar González de Rueda commented, "Maternal care significantly increases an offspring's chances of survival. In Ecuador's rainforest, juvenile stink bugs are vulnerable to attack by numerous predators and parasitoids, making it a highly complex ecosystem with countless interconnected life forms." Insects play a vital role in ecosystems by maintaining healthy soil, recycling nutrients, pollinating flowers, and controlling pests. 

Lichen Dinner [Nikon F90X, 60mm f/2.8 Macro, Kodak E 100 S] (Image credit: Roberto Bueno)

In total, nine winners were selected from each category; Hungarian photographer Csaba Darôczi was selected from the Birds Category, Jens Cullman won the mammals category for Last Dance showing a pride of lions preying upon a buffalo herd at the Chitake Springs in the Mana Pool National Park, Zimbabwe, while Marjan Artnak was selected from the Other Animals category for their capture of a beautiful f5 [Taking first place in the plants and fungi category is photographer Roberto Bueno for his shot of a lichen-covered stone table, Joel Delmas came first for his aerial landscape shot of the Geldingadalur volcano in Iceland erupting. 

Volcanic Swirls - Landscape winner [DJI Mavic Pro 2, Hasselblad L1D-20c, ISO 100] (Image credit: Joel Delmas)

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023

Tightrope artist - [Olympus E-M1 Mark III, Zuiko 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3, ISO 1000] (Image credit: Alberto Roman Gomez)

The Underwater World category was awarded to Catherine Holmes for a mesmerizing shot of Munk’s Devil Rays taken at night in the shallow bay of Isla Espirito Santo. Angel Fitor came first place in the man and nature category and GDT member Bruno D’Amicis won the Nature’s Studio category for his shot of an endangered Mediterranean monk seal taken in the shallows of the Halout cave in Greece. 

Up-and-coming photographers also had the chance to demonstrate their skills in the competition, with Alberto Román Gómez winning in the category for young photographers aged 14 and under, while Luca Lorenz from Germany claimed the first place in the junior talents category for ages 15 to 17.

Water Ballet - [Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, ISO 500, tripod] (Image credit: Marjan Artnak)

The Fritz Pölking Prize, dedicated to nature photo stories and portfolios was awarded to Jasper Doest from the Netherlands for his project A Fragile Refuge for Forest Elephants. The Fritz Pölking Junior Prize went to Mateusz Piesiak from Poland for his creative portfolio Sunflower Paradise.

The competition's success was made possible thanks to the generous support of Canon, AC-Foto, Nikon, PanOceanPhoto & Travel, Transcontinental GmbH, Sigma, and Sparkasse an der Lippe. The winners received cash prizes of $3,190/£2,616/€3,000 for the overall winner, $2,126/£1,744/€2,000 for the Fritz Pölking Prize, and $1,595/£1,308/€1,500 for the Fritz Pölking Junior Prize, among other awards, totaling $35,600/£29,214/€33,500.

An exhibition featuring all the winning images will tour Germany and several other European countries after the award ceremony beginning at the Deutsches Pferdemuseum in Verden near Bremen, with an official opening ceremony scheduled for December 7, 2023.

For more information about the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the winning photographs, and upcoming exhibition dates, please visit the official website.

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023

Last Dance [Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, EF 200-400mm f/4, ISO 200] (Image credit: Jens Cullmann)

Flycatcher [Nikon D850, 90mm f/2.8, ISO 400, flash with softbox] (Image credit: Petr Bambousek Brookesia)

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023

Abstract - [Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, ISO 640, tripod] (Image credit: Davide Casazza)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.