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2023 Nature inFocus photography awards winners
2023 Nature inFocus photography awards winners Copyright Credit: Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Copyright Credit: Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Copyright Credit: Nature inFocus Photography Awards

Check out the breathtaking winning images from Nature inFocus Photography Awards 2023

By Theo Farrant
Published on Updated
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Winners are chosen in the categories of Animal Behaviour, Animal Portraits, Conservation Focus, Creative Nature Photography and Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat.

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This year's winners of the NatureinFocus Photography Awards were announced at the Nature inFocus Festival, held at the Jayamahal Palace in Bangalore, India. 

From a heartwarming portrait of a Bonobo nurturing a mongoose pup, to a fierce battle for mating rights among male Nubian Ibexes in Israel's Zin Desert, these images capture unique moments in natural history and address crucial conservation matters.

The winners were whittled down from a total of 24,000 submitted photographs from 1,500 photographers around the world. 

Below is a stunning collection of some of the winning and highly-commended images from the competition. 

Animal Behaviour winner: Shell I Eat You? by Sankhesh Dedhia

Credit: Nature inFocus / Sankhesh Dedhia
'Shell I Eat You?' by Sankhesh DedhiaCredit: Nature inFocus / Sankhesh Dedhia

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!

Animal Behaviour winner: A Love Like No Other by Afroj Sheikh

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Afroj Sheikh
'A Love Like No Other' by Afroj SheikhCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Afroj Sheikh

Caught in the crosshairs of a hungry leopard, the vulnerable mother and baby langur had little chance of survival. The hunt and the chase had led the predator and prey up a tree before the mother succumbed to the suffocating hold of the large cat. But in embracing death, the mother was able to save her offspring.

Animal Behaviour winner: A Sappy Alliance by Avinash PC

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Avinash PC
A Sappy Alliance by Avinash PCCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Avinash PC

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 favourite 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!

Conservation Focus winner: Cry Me a River by Hiren Pagi

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Hiren Pagi
Cry Me a River by Hiren PagiCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Hiren Pagi

Every once in a while, news sites report that a dead crocodile was found in the Vishwamitri river, a fleeting acknowledgement of the water body’s ~270 Mugger Crocodiles. The image shows the conditions in which these reptiles coexist with humans. The river has become a dumping yard for the nearby establishments, and in various places, drainage water also makes its way into the mix. The Mugger Crocodiles of the river face many threats, including habitat loss and water pollution.

Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat winner: The Things You Do for Love by Amit Eshel

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Emit Ashel
The Things You Do for Love by Emit AshelCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Emit Ashel

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.

Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat winner: Worlds Apart by Dileep SS

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Dileep SS
Worlds Apart by Dileep SSCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Dileep SS

Think Dubai and the first thing that comes to mind is architectural marvels that make the sky seem at arm's reach. The tall buildings may be Dubai's trademark visuals, but another world coexists alongside the dazzle, where wildlife thrives in the desert. The image juxtaposes these two worlds—the towering skyscrapers and the endless sands—a gentle reminder to look beyond the concrete.

Creative Nature Photography winner: All That Glitters Are Spores by Anirban Dutta

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Anirban Dutta
All That Glitters Are Spores by Anirban DuttaCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Anirban Dutta

The bristles are the brightly-coloured protective hairs of the Slug Moth larvae. The glitter-like effect is because of mushrooms releasing spores. When the photographer found the larvae positioned right next to the sporing mushrooms, he did not want to miss the opportunity to capture the dramatic frame, and dramatic it is!

Creative Nature Photography winner: Symmetry in Mimicry by Arkaprava Ghosh

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Arkaprava Ghosh
Symmetry in Mimicry by Arkaprava GhoshCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Arkaprava Ghosh

Mimicry is the highest form of flattery, they say. But in the animal world, it is among the best defence 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.

Animal Portraits winner: The Bonobo and His Pet by Christian Ziegler

Credit: Nature inFocus Awards / Christian Ziegler
The Bonobo and His Pet by Christian ZieglerCredit: Nature inFocus Awards / Christian Ziegler

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 behaviour has only been recorded once before by Prof Barbara Fruth at this site.

Animal Portraits winner: Inspector Booby by Suliman Alatiqi

Photograph: Suliman Alatiqi/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Inspector Booby by Suliman AlatiqiPhotograph: Suliman Alatiqi/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

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.

Young Photographer winner: Raiders of Hives by Pranav Mahendru

Photograph: Pranav Mahendru/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Raiders of Hives by Pranav MahendruPhotograph: Pranav Mahendru/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

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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Young Photographer winner: Slender in the Night by Arnav Deshpande

Photograph: Arnav Deshpande/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Slender in the Night by Arnav DeshpandePhotograph: Arnav Deshpande/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

Like the spiders they are commonly confused with, opiliones 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.

Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat special mention: The Land of Stripes by Amit Vyas

Photograph: Amit Vyas/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
The Land of Stripes by Amit VyasPhotograph: Amit Vyas/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

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 show itself, it almost feels too good to be true. The historical architecture of the landscape, its species and the cerulean backdrop create an image that has magic written all over it. 

Wildscape & Animals in Their Habitat special mention: The Rarest of Them All by Sergey Gorshkov

Photograph: Sergey Gorshkov/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
The Rarest of Them All by Sergey GorshkovPhotograph: Sergey Gorshkov/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

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. 

Animal Behaviour special mention: It’s a Cat-eat-cat World by Karthik Mohan Iyer

Photograph: Karthik Mohan Iyer/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
It’s a Cat-eat-cat World by Karthik Mohan IyerPhotograph: Karthik Mohan Iyer/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

It takes a moment before you go, ‘Woah!’. Though tigers and leopards share the same prey base, they tend to be non-confrontational and mostly stay away from one another. But when threatened by competition, tigers can eliminate other predators in their territory, such as leopards. 

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Animal Behaviour special mention: Lights Will Guide You Home by Merche Llobera

Photograph: Merche Llobera/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Lights Will Guide You Home by Merche LloberaPhotograph: Merche Llobera/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

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. 

Young Photographer special mention: Gecko’s Garage by Vidyun Hebbar

Photograph: Vidyun Hebbar/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards
Gecko’s Garage by Vidyun HebbarPhotograph: Vidyun Hebbar/2023 Nature inFocus Photography Awards

The Andaman day gecko or the green emerald gecko is a bright-coloured gecko endemic to the Andaman Islands. The young photographer was on vacation when he spotted this shy creature lurking inside a light shade.

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