Earth.Org has been proud to host our Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition, and a sincere thank you to all those who entered the 2023 edition. We received entries from nearly 1,000 talented photographers, conservationists, wildlife enthusiasts, and explorers from across the world who all share a passion for the environment and uncovering our planet’s natural beauty. Here are the winners and runner-ups of this year’s competition, showcasing the stunning and powerful scenes depicting the human impacts on the environment and wildlife, as well as the efforts people are doing to lead the change.
1. WINNER: ‘Best Environmental Photo’ and ‘Wildlife in Peril’ Categories (Amy Jones, United Kingdom)
About the photographer: Amy Jones is a photojournalist who co-founded the animal photojournalism project, Moving Animals. Since 2018, she has worked on the ground across eight different countries to document the animals used for food, entertainment, fashion, and experimentation. Her work has featured in over 150 media outlets, including The Washington Post, CNN, and The Independent, and has informed the campaigns of multiple animal advocacy organisations. A selection of her photographs were also published in the seminal book, HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene, forwarded by Joaquin Phoenix.
About the photo: A young macaque monkey stares out from a small, empty cage at a zoo in Mae Rim, in Northern Thailand. Sometimes he struggles to touch the hand of the macaque in the cage next to him, desperate for a brief moment of social interaction. In the wild, many monkeys live in complex social groups and traverse huge distances every single day. Macaques, for example, live in social groups of between 15 and 40 animals, and normally spend their time in the trees, covering long distances while foraging. At this venue, over 15 primates are kept alone in isolated cages with chains around their necks and deprived of food and water. When tourists arrive, they are taken to a stage and forced to perform tricks including juggling, bike riding, and dancing. I documented these primates pacing desperately on tight chains in 2019. Some were rocking, swaying, and aggressively banging their heads – all signs of serious psychological distress. Others, like this one, just lay on the floor silently. Some of these monkeys may have been trapped in these cages for over a decade, with hundreds of negative online reviews going as far back as 2008.
“To me this photograph represents the immense amount of emotional suffering we inflict on animals for profit pleasure and entertainment. In this young macaque’s eyes we witness the sheer boredom and hopelessness that he is experiencing and I hope that this image serves as a stark reminder that animals are sentient individuals with complex emotions – just like us,” said Jones.
RUNNER-UP: ‘Wildlife in Peril’ (Yam G-Jun, Kyrgyzstan)
About the photographer: Yam G-Jun is a professional documentary photographer currently based in Kyrgyzstan. He got into photography when he was in high school, driven by his huge passion for visual storytelling. After studying photojournalism at Chicago’s Columbia College, he began working as a full-time photographer.
About the photo: It was a bitter cold winter in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan in 2021. Yam G-Jun was on an assignment for Le Monde and stumbled on a pack of 12-15 dead wolves being displayed in the public square. Initially, he only saw the dead ones whose bodies were frozen solid due to the cold but then they brought out a wolf that was still alive, the only remaining one in the pack, according to local eyewitnesses. “It was trying to survive as much as it can, wiggling and forcing itself to get freed. I took the photo to show that struggle,” he said.
2. WINNER: ‘Human Impacts on the Environment’ Category (Rayhan Ahmed, Bangladesh)
About the photographer: Rayhan Ahmed is a professional freelancer photographer. He completed a basic photography
course at the South Asian Media Institute as well as many photography workshops conducted by renowned photographers of Bangladesh.
About the photo: The photo depicts a woman searching for essential survival items, such as food and clothes, in a huge garbage dump in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The landfill is in stark contrast with the vivid greenery seen in the background. Landfills such as this are a huge source of air pollution and have a devastating impact on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human health. Trash pickers often spend entire days collecting trash, including paper, plastic and glass bottles, iron pieces and carton which they then resell. The money they earn is immediately reinvested in food and other goods for their family members.
RUNNER-UP: ‘Human Impacts on the Environment‘ Category (Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman, Bangladesh)
About the photographer: Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman is a Bangladeshi photojournalist based in the capital Dhaka. A postgrad in Political Science from the University of Dhaka, he obtained a one-year diploma at Pathshala South Asian Media Institute. He has been documenting people and culture, landscapes, wildlife, environmental issues, festivals, entertainment, sports, business, and political events in Bangladesh for over two decades. He is Head of News Photography at bdnews24.com, the country’s first-ever digital media outlet. His prolific lenses have captured almost every corner of the country and virtually all aspects of life here. A travel enthusiast, Muhammad specialised in travel photography and wrote about his exhilarating experiences for different newspapers and magazines under the pen name Mustafiz Mamun. He has written four books and had his images featured in many national and global publications. His images have been showcased in a few remarkable exhibitions at home and abroad and earned him numerous prestigious domestic and international awards.
About the photo: This is the aerial view of the Swarupkathi Timber Market, the country’s largest wood market located on the banks of Sandhya River in Swarupkathi Upazila, Pirojpur district in southern Bangladesh. Traders collected wood from different parts of the country and brought it to this market to sell them. Muhammad captured this image with his drone camera on April 23, 2022. He took this picture to highlight the harmful impact of deforestation on the environment.
“Environmental photography has helped increase environmental awareness by visually displaying both the beauty of nature and the consequences to that beauty of accidental and deliberate environmental degradation,” he said.
RUNNER-UP: ‘Human Impacts on the Environment‘ Category (Kazushige Horiguchi, Japan)
About the photographer: Kazushige Horiguchi is a journalist and underwater photographer from Japan. He works for diving magazines, newspapers and television. He started his photography journey with the intent to raise awareness about the degradation of ocean ecosystems.
About the photo: The photo was shot in the Aomi Town, in the Japanese Yamaguchi Prefecture. It depicts an octopus trapped in a net. After filming and shooting the scene, Horiguchi said he cut the net with a knife and saved the octopus from certain death. “I want people not only in Japan but also all over the world to see this picture. Dumping garbage in the ocean is a nuisance to all living things but most people are unaware of what is really going on underwater,” he said.
3. WINNER: ‘Climate Action’ Category (Emilio Mancuso, Italy)
About the photographer: Emilio Mancuso is a marine biologist and project’ coordinator of underwater farm Nemo’s Garden in Noli, Italy. The project’s goal is to create an alternative system of agriculture dedicated to those areas where environmental conditions, economical or morphologic reasons make plants growth extremely difﬁcult. The project came to life ten years ago whit the mission to help future nutrition with underwater hydroponic cultivation. In a world afflicted by soil consumption and freshwater’ needs, Nemo’s Garden farms terrestrial plant in hydroponic system underwater in a sustainable way. As a marine biologist, Mancuso sees photography as a powerful tool to inspire people to get more involved in underwater ecology matters.
About the photo: The photo was taken during daily monitoring activities in Nemo’s Garden. Mancuso, who was carrying his camera at the time, managed to capture a dynamic moment where school of sardine use Nemo’s Garden as sheltered are to rest. The picture, he said, shows the “collateral effect” of the underwater farm: It becomes house and shelter for a huge marine biodiversity.”
RUNNER UP: ‘Climate Action‘ Category (José Luis Alcaide, Spain)
About the photographer: José Luis Alcaide is an underwater photographer and marine educator. His work is source of “infinite sadness”, he said, as he is constantly confronted with the devastating impacts that human waste have on flora and fauna human waste.
“For us, as marine educators, making people aware and talking about these problems is one of our biggest challenges. Ocean literacy is a must that has to be linked with other international efforts like Blue Curriculum, Blue Schools, Blue Economy… Blue Planet,” he said.
About the photo: The photo was taken in one of the many underwater cleanings that Alcaide and other people organise through Proyecto Plumbum, a pioneering project to decontaminate the seabed from human trash, of which he is a coordinator. The expeditions take place in one of the best-preserved underwater landscapes in the Mediterranean, the Cabo de Palos Marine Fishing Reserve in Murcia, Spain.
“I decided to take this photo to show the reality of the problem and thus be able to bring it to the attention of people who cannot see it with their own eyes,” Alcaine said.
RUNNER UP: ‘Climate Action‘ Category (Adra Pallón, Spain)
About the photographer: Adra Pallón is a self-taught freelance photographer based in Lugo, Spain. Over the last five years, he has been working on documentary and multimedia photography projects all over the country, dealing with different themes. His work has been recognised by public institutions, the media, and society. Pallón alternates his collaboration with different media with his personal work on long-term projects.
About the photo: The photo was shot in Galicia, Spain, one of the regions most affected by forest fires in Europe, and it depicts the harsh conditions in which fire brigadiers work. It was taken with the intent to raise awareness about the threats that forest fires represent for ecosystems and humans.
The Earth.Org Climate Crisis Photography Competition 2024 has already kicked off! Make sure to follow us on social media for updates.
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