Global environmental organization, The Nature Conservancy, has unveiled the mesmerizing images from its latest 2022 photo contest. The critical importance of conservation has been highlighted through these top selected images, which stand as a stark reminder of the imminent climate change dangers that we face.
This year’s competition boasted the largest number of participants ever, with more than 100,000 entries received from 196 different countries. There were six different categories for photographers to enter, with two new categories for this edition.
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Two new categories have been introduced; Plants & Fungi, and Climate, with an additional Celebrity Judge Award, with the winner chosen by Peterson, and a Guest Judge Choice Award, chosen by Vitale.
The grand prize winner of the competition was photographer Li Ping, from China, whose winning image featured a drone shot of an empty highway in Tibet, bordered on either side by gullies extending outward in the shape of a tree. Ping is said to have slept in a roadside parking lot overnight to capture the early morning shot.
Ami Vitale selected the image by Shafeeq Mulla, from Zambia, to receive the Guest Judge award. This very raw image depicts a leopard known as Olimba, carrying the carcass of a female vervet monkey, while its baby is still hanging on for dear life.
“The diversity of images from around the world gave a glimpse into our fragile planet and all the life that inhabits it,” said judge Ami Vitale. “The contest itself was a mesmerizing odyssey and we are left with a profound message of how interconnected all of us are and what it means to our own survival to intermingle with wildness.”
Taking the crown for the Celebrity Judge award chosen by Coyote Peterson was Florian Ledoux's image of a female polar bear breastfeeding her two cubs, in the harbor of an abandoned Russian settlement, known as Pyramiden. Peterson beautifully contextualized the image in his statement:
“The composition of this photo and its color balance is absolutely beautiful. The eye is drawn to these elements first and then you realize the center point is the mother polar bear and her cubs. The abandonment of the Russian settlement is a powerful statement that nature can and hopefully will reclaim its rightful place and despite the mess we leave behind, life finds a way."
He continues, "For an animal like the polar bear, which is physically running out of space for existence due to constantly melting sea ice, the bravery it shows for a mother to find a place of refuge for her cubs is a heartwarming scene amongst the frigid feel this entire vision portrays.”
The introduction of the Climate category provided photographers with the chance to depict how climate change has manifested in communities and ecosystems around the globe. The category winner for Climate was Sandesh Kadur, from India, with their image of a fan-throated lizard situated at a wind farm in the Satara district of India.
Other winning images
The first and second place winners from each category will take home $750 in cash, as well as a $500 gift card. Meg Goldthwaite, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for The Nature Conservancy has shared that:
“The Photo Contest is an annual highlight at TNC. These incredible images from talented photographers all over the world remind us how connected we are to each other and to this beautiful planet, and at the same time of the challenges we face."
She continues, “It energizes us as we work to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends, so that future generations can enjoy the same natural wonders depicted in these amazing photos.”
• You might also be interested in the best portable hides and camouflage gear for wildlife photography, the emotive climate change photo series by Nick Brandt, as well as Danie Ferreira's climate change photo book, and don't forget to enter The Amazon Assignment photo campaign before it's too late.