Australians amongst Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners

The winners of 2021’s Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have been revealed.

With more than 50,000 entries from 95 countries, two Australians found themselves among the winners in the ‘Photojournalism’, and ‘Plants and Fungi’ categories.

Adam Oswell won the ‘Photojournalism’ category for his image, Elephant in the room. It was captured at a zoo in Thailand, where the elephant was made to perform tricks underwater. While the elephant’s performance was promoted as educational and exercise-related, Adam said he was disturbed by this scene.

Elephant in the room. Image: Adam Oswell

Justin Gilligan took out the ‘Plants and Fungi’ category for his image Rich reflections.

Taken at Lord Howe Island, the image captures marine ranger Caitlin Woods diving in the world’s southernmost tropical reef.

Rich reflections. Image: Justin Gilligan

French biologist and underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta was announced as the overall ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’. His photograph Creation showed camouflage groupers exiting a milky cloud of eggs and sperm in French Polynesia.


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Among other winners was 10-year-old Vidyun R Hebbar from India, who won the ‘Youth Photographer’ category which is open to photographers aged 17 and under.

Hebbar’s photo, Dome home, is a close-up shot of a tiny spider in a web it strung in a wall gap. A passing tuk-tuk provided a soft, colourful background.

Dome home. Image: Vidyun R Hebbar

The ‘Animals in their Environment’ category was won by Zack Clothier, who captured an image of a grizzly bear with a camera trap – the last photo captured on the camera.

Grizzly leftovers. Image: Zack Clothier

To win the ‘Animal Portraits’ category, Majed Ali entered an amazing capture of a mountain gorilla, peacefully enjoying the rain.

Jennifer Haynes came first in the ‘Oceans – The Bigger Picture’ category, with her image Nursery Meltdown.

Following an Arctic storm, it took hours of flying in a helicopter to find this fractured sea ice, which was used as a birthing platform by harp seals. “It was a pulse of life that took your breath away,” Haynes said about the scene.

Image: Nursery meltdown. Jennifer Hayes

To see more of the winners and highly commended photos, visit the Natural History Museums website here.