30 Of The Most Impressive Images From The 2023 Nature “inFocus” Photography Contest

The 2023 Nature “inFocus” Photography Awards has just revealed its winners at a ceremony in Bangalore, India. These extraordinary talents were selected from 24,000 wildlife images, submitted by over 1,500 photographers from around the world. Among them, filmmaker and conservationist Srikanth Mannepuri earned the prestigious title of Photographer of the Year for his captivating portfolio, shedding light on the challenges confronting India’s coastal mangrove forests.

From stunning animal portraits to vital conservation stories, these photographs capture the beauty and challenges of our natural world. Let’s explore the award-winning images from this year’s competition!

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LuiKotale, Near Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo

“The last great ape to be described, the Bonobo, is one of our closest living relatives. Here, a wild Bonobo who caught a mongoose pup is looking after it like a pet. He later released the animal unharmed. This behavior has only been recorded once before by Prof Barbara Fruth at this site.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Photographers were encouraged to submit their top-notch photos in seven different categories: Animal Behavior, Conservation Focus, Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat, Creative Nature Photography, Animal Portraits, Young Photographer, and Photographer of the Year – Portfolio. While the contest initially started in India, this year’s edition drew a higher number of entries from photographers worldwide.

Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

“Live life king-size, they say. So if you are the king of the jungle, what do you do after a hearty meal but roll over and relax? Never mind the flies all around, trying to break your siesta.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

“The photographers were observing a pride of lions and saw them respond to the rain in their own way. While some of the cubs continued their play with renewed vigor, others tried to seek shelter close to their mothers. The mothers, in turn, sought refuge where they could in the open savannah. But this lioness stood out from her pride, as she stayed put in the rain.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

One of the founders of Nature “inFocus”, Rohit Varma, said that every year, they see pictures that show new things about our natural world and also highlight important global problems related to protecting nature.

“The Nature inFocus Photography Awards has grown to become a meeting place for national and international photographers. We are thrilled to see the growth in the number of participants and the geographical locations. It truly has become an international platform for wildlife photographers!”

Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India

“If the essence of Ranthambore could be captured in one frame, this would be it. Only once in a blue moon does the landscape become this misty at Ranthambore. And when a tiger chooses the opportune moment to mark its presence, it almost feels too good to be true. The historical architecture of the landscape, its iconic species and the cerulean backdrop–the image has magic written all over it.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Costa Rica

“A pod of Spinner Dolphins dives back into the beautifully lit waters of the Pacific Ocean, creating this stunning scene of a cetacean avalanche. One of the dolphins can be seen gazing into the camera lens, adding a touch of curiosity and connection to the frame.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

A group of six experts who specialize in wildlife, the environment, film, photography, and business, carefully chose the winning photos for each category. What are your thoughts about the images? Share them in the comments! Don’t forget to upvote your favorite photographs.

Ladakh, India

“A sub-adult Snow Leopard frolics in the snow as he curiously gazes into the camera trap. While the backdrop captures the enchanting beauty of the Himalayas, the snow in the foreground is a testament to the boundless energy of the young cat. Be warned! Once you catch that piercing gaze, it is hard to look away.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Baja California Sur, Mexico

“A Marlin and a Sea Lion contest for a meal amidst a bait ball of sardines, showcasing the fierce competition that exists in the ocean.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

“One of the rarest cats in the world, the Amur Leopard certainly makes you earn your sighting. The critically endangered felid faces several threats, including poaching for its fur. While suitable habitats are present across Russia and China, these leopards are threatened by the scarcity of prey animals.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

East Coast of Sri Lanka

“An Olive Ridley Sea Turtle attempts to swim away from its confines, the remnants of a ghost net. Fortunately, the turtle was still healthy when the photographer found it, and he successfully set it free. But for many, help doesn’t come at all.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Isla San Benedicto, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico

“Brown Boobys spend a significant portion of their lives in the open ocean. Their clumsy nature on land earned them their namesake, derived from the Spanish word bobo, which means stupid or daft. They are excellent foragers of the sea and plunge-dive to feed on anything from anchovies and sardines to squid and shrimp. The photographer watched this individual dipping its head underwater at short intervals and got in position to capture a close-up portrait of the bird from the perspective of its fated prey.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Near Palm Beach, Florida, USA

“Atlantic Goliath Groupers are massive fish that can live for dozens of years. They can grow up to 2.5m long and weigh up to 360kg. During one of his dives, the photographer found the groupers surrounded by silvery schools of Bigeye Scads, who were being ignored in favour of larger prey. Like when Gulliver arrived at Lilliput and was careful not to step on the tiny Lilliputians, the groupers swam through the swirling tunnel of smaller fish, creating this unique portrait.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

“This stunning action shot captures a rarely-seen natural history moment, where the legendary Arrowhead of Ranthambhore fishes out an Indian Softshell Turtle from the lake for lunch. A tiger’s diet in the wild can be very varied as the felid can prey on pretty much everything on its turf, even a turtle, hence proved!”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

“The streams of water from the sharp claws show a new facet of the bear, one that is not documented often. Among the largest bears in the world, the Brown Bears of Kamchatka are often seen in water, trying to catch their share of salmon. But rarely do you see this side of the animal.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi, Thailand

“A pair of bejeweled Tokay Geckos peer out from between the rafters of a gazebo. These geckos are named after the sound they produce–the word “gecko” itself comes from the Javanese name for this species. One of the largest species of geckos on the planet, they are quite shy and can camouflage their otherwise bright colors when they need to blend in.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

“The pitter-patter of rain never looked so sharp, and amid the deluge, the furry outline of a hyena leaves one with more questions than answers.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Phen Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India

“Mimicry is the highest form of flattery, they say. But in the animal world, it is among the best defense mechanisms. Here, Line-forest Skimmers position themselves aptly on the perennial Phanera vahlii creeper to resemble an inflorescence. Notice how the dragonflies have raised their abdomens in unison? Fooling a predator never looked this intricate.”

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Kannur, Kerala, India

“Symbiotic relationships are plenty in the natural world! But none as sappy and sugary as the mutualistic relationship between ants and aphids. Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are serious plant pests. They secrete a sugar-rich liquid called honeydew, a favorite food of ants! So much so that the ants protect these insects from other predators and even shepherd them to the healthiest parts of the plant to maintain a steady stream of sweet honeydew!”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Kartik Swami Trek, Uttarakhand, India

“A male Cheer Pheasant basks in the warm sunlight as dawn breaks over the mighty Himalayas. Alas, Cheer Pheasants actually don’t have much to cheer for! Habitat loss and hunting are the main threats to this pheasant species.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

“After a successful hunt, the Snow Leopard was feasting on its catch when a pack of feral dogs tried to steal its meal. The image captures the moment when the felid stepped towards one of the dogs during the standoff. Feral dogs have become a common sight in the Spiti Valley, where they often attack animals like Blue Sheep, Himalayan Ibex and Red Fox. But the fact that they are now also confronting apex predators like the Snow Leopards is alarming to say the least. Feral dogs reduce the prey base for Snow Leopards and can spread fatal diseases like canine distemper among wild animals.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Hooghly, West Bengal, India

“Rural areas in West Bengal are where you can still find hurricane lanterns in use during power outages. The sole source of light in the pitch dark attracts insects in large numbers along with other nocturnal denizens like this Common Palm Civet, looking for an easy dinner!”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Zin Desert, Israel

“Looks like the set for the next Mission Impossible, but for Nubian Ibexes, the high-altitude rocky terrains are home. The vulnerable ibex species is known for many things–large semi-circular horns, the ability to scale mountains with ease and the territorial fights that males engage in during the rutting season. Displays of dominance begin with showing off their impressive horns. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to escalate by pushing and shoving the opponent and literally locking horns with them. Ibexes also stand on their hind legs as they get ready to strike.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

“In the dense forests of Satpura, a pair of Oriental Honey Buzzards raid a beehive. These raptors hunt for food in beehives and wasp nests but, unlike what their name suggests, they prefer bee and wasp larvae over actual honey.”

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Northern British Columbia, Canada

“When winter arrives in northern British Columbia, sometimes the snow is so deep the Wood Bison herds that inhabit the forest along the Alaska Highway tend to use the ploughed highway to move from one grazing area to another. The journey is difficult, and many bison succumb to the traffic. Records show that annually about 15 per cent of the population in the region dies as a result of these collisions. The aerial image is a befitting representation of how the threatened species manoeuvres these problematic terrains.”

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Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

“The Andaman Day Gecko or the Green Emerald Gecko is a bright-colored gecko endemic to the Andaman Islands. The young photographer was on vacation when he spotted this shy reptile lurking inside a chandelier light.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Satkosia, Odisha, India

“The atmospheric blue brushstrokes, the warm sunset glow on the orange bills of the Indian Skimmers and the bokeh on the water body; what’s not to love about this image?”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Matheran, Maharashtra, India

“Like the spiders they are commonly confused with, Harvestmen too have eight legs–mostly long and thin in contrast to their bodies. They are living fossils, the original ‘Daddy Longlegs’, having remained unchanged for millions of years. On a rainy night, the young photographer spotted this Opilione sheltering in a crevice, raindrops glistening on its limbs.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Eastern Province, Sri Lanka

“In this heartbreaking photograph, a herd of wild elephants forage amidst garbage brimming with plastics and other toxic materials. The haunting visual serves as an urgent call to address the devastating consequences of our waste disposal systems. Not only does it pollute the environment, it also impacts the animals that seek food and refuge amidst the trash.”

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Near Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka, India

‘Amidst a sea of onlookers, a kumki elephant plays mediator between the forest officials and the wild elephant that had made its way into the village. We can only try and imagine the stress these animals undergo in such volatile conflict scenarios.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India

“A rundown building inside the forest provided the perfect window into the world of fireflies. The glitter of the fireflies in action makes it look like the trees have been lit up for a special occasion.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Mallacoota, Victoria, Australia

“The Australia Bushfire 2020 had devastating impacts on its wildlife. An estimated three billion animals were killed or displaced in the fires that season. The NGO ‘Vets For Compassion’ actively worked in the Mallacoota, Victoria region to find and rescue Koalas and other animals that were affected by the fires. They made their way past blockades, searching for animals in the most severely affected areas. In this photograph, veterinarian Chris Barton looks for survivors amidst a burned eucalyptus plantation.”

Nature inFocus Photography Awards Report

Note: this post originally had 49 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.