By Kate Harrold
THE WINNERS of the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2021 photo competition have been revealed.
In one image titled ‘Forged in the Fires of Creation,’ British photographer James Gifford captured a mother rhino and her calf silhouetted against the setting sun in Botswana as they visited a nearby watering hole.
In another titled ‘Hartlaub’s Gull,’ fellow Brit Philip Jackson photographed the titular bird skimming across the water in the seaside village of Kommetjie near Cape Town, South Africa.
This year, the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year competition received over 25,000 entries all celebrating the many wonders of the titular continent. The competition challenged entrants to capture Africa’s most fascinating landscapes, wildlife, and people.
“It has been a great joy and privilege to receive your entries and to see the vastly different perspectives of Africa,” James Hendry, editor-in-chief, said.
“Over the desert sands, across the savannas, through the forests, under the ocean and from the mountain fastnesses, you have sent us images that inspired awe, wanderlust and a connection to wild places we so desperately need.”
South African photographer Hannes Lochner won the top prize with his image ‘Fly in the Eye’ captured in Chobe National Park, Botswana. The image featured a fly passing over the eye of a grumpy lion.
“A lion cub tried to nudge his dad, but the male was grumpy. At the click of the shutter, a fly passed through the focus point and the pupil of the eye,” Hannes said.
“The blunt teeth indicate an old male – but clearly, one still to be feared. Cubs always tread lightly around the males, weary of a swipe.”
The remaining 17 winners were all awarded runners-up prizes. In ‘A Mother’s Duty,’ Chinese photographer Bob Chiu captured a mother of the Mursi tribe nursing her baby whilst holding an AK47 rifle. The photograph was captured in southern Ethiopia.
“On my way out of the village, I saw this woman holding an AK47 and nursing her child. As I walked closer, it was the baby’s eyes that attracted my attention. He stared straight at me. I used body language to ask the mother if I could take a photo of her and her baby,” Bob said.
“Many people believe that photography in Africa is all about the animals and landscapes. However, the people of this part of the world are actually more fascinating to me. Whether it is Ethiopia or Morocco, there is a great depth of culture and history.”
In ‘The Murderous Pharoah,’ Kenyan photographer Aditya Nair photographed the bloody face of a cheetah in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. The cheetah is part of the park’s famous Tano Bora coalition.
Also captured in the Maasai Mara National Park, Brazilian photographer Ana Zinger captured the moment a giraffe mother tended to her calf – grooming and cleaning her baby. The photograph was titled ‘Maasai Giraffe.’
South African photographer Eleanor Hattingh captured one of the continent’s smaller inhabitants. ‘Yellow-Crowned Bishop in Full Voice’ was taken in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa, and featured the titular bird showcasing its breeding plumage.
“He was trying his best to attract a female to his nest with his beautiful song, flaring his yellow feathers, putting on quite a show in a field of pompom weeds,” Eleanor said.
“While I know the pompom weeds are rapidly becoming a serious threat to the conservation of grasslands in South Africa, they do make for a colourful backdrop complimenting the stunning yellow plumage of the bishop.”
Also hailing from South Africa, Geo Clote’s image ‘Cape Weaver Taking an Air Drink’ further highlighted Africa’s winged inhabitants. The photo was captured in Yzerfontein, South Africa, from Geo’s back garden at home.
Kenyan photographer James Nampaso’s image, ‘Attack,’ was taken in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Kenya. The photo featured the moment two lionesses ambushed a giraffe.
“During a morning game drive, I saw two lionesses watching a giraffe and her calf from the cover of a croton bush,” James said.
“Soon, the lions started stalking the giraffes and I told my guests to get their cameras ready. The lions managed to jump onto the calf, but the mother giraffe chased them away.
“Once the rest of the pride arrived, they surrounded the giraffes, and after about half an hour, a lioness managed to jump onto the mother’s back and distract her. During the brief separation, the lions killed the calf. The mother eventually escaped.”
In ‘Chinspot Chicks,’ Filipino photographer Kirkamon Cabello photographed a female chinspot bird feeding its chicks in a nest in Kolwezi Lualaba Province, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Marcello Galleano’s image ‘Fennec Fox,’ featured the titular fox travelling through the Tunisian desert.
“The ears, large and wide, manage to save this fennec fox from the sweltering weather,” Marcello said.
“This is the smallest fox in the world, here immortalised while walking in the perfect dunes of the Tunisian desert. It is comfortably camouflaged despite the hostile climate of this region.”
Taken in Kruger National Park, in his home country of South Africa, Mattheuns Pretorius’ image ‘A Small Amphibian Sits on a Rain Tree Leaf,’ was captured shortly following cyclone Eloise. Mattheuns was also awarded for the photo ‘Hippopotamus Enjoys Sleeping in a Natural Jacuzzi’ which was also taken in Kruger National Park.
“I took this photograph from the low water bridge over the Sabie River near Lower Sabie Camp in the Kruger National Park. It was January and extremely hot,” Mattheuns said.
“This hippopotamus found relief in the cool rapids below the bridge and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying itself. Completely unperturbed by the human onlookers, it even fell into a brief midday snooze.”
In his image ‘Mozambican Long-Fingered Bat Emerging from the Codzo Cave,’ Piotr Naskrecki captured one of the aforementioned bats who live in a large colony in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.
Captured at the Wild is Life Sanctuary, Zimbabwe, British Photographer Sam Turley’s image ‘Marimba’ features Marimba the ground pangolin with her guardian Mateus Masangunge who have spent 13 years together.
“Marimba is a Ground Pangolin. Her mother, like many others of her species, was poached for her scales to be used in traditional Chinese medicine. Marimba was thought to have been just a year old when she was orphaned – too young to fend for herself,” Sam said.
“Pangolins are notoriously difficult to look after in captivity and require particular and personal care. Mateo’s gentle nature seemed like a perfect fit, and a remarkable relationship was born.
“Many attempts have been made to rewild Marimba, but she always finds a way back to Mateo. She is simply too attached to him, and being so young when her mother died, she never learnt the essential skills required to survive in the wild.”
In ‘Natal Tree Frog Hiding in a Ligularia Leaf,’ Zimbabwean Shirley Gillitt wondered across the shy creature one morning in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Italian photographer Valentino Morgante’s image was taken in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The photo, titled ‘Hands,’ featured one of the park’s mountain gorillas.
“I have been lucky and privileged to have visited the mountain gorillas of Bwindi in Uganda a few times and what surprises me the most each time I encounter them is how similar they are to us,” Valentino said.
“His hands caught my attention; I was amazed at how similar they are to our human hands.”
Rounding out the runners-up was Chinese photographer Ying Shi with their image ‘Morning Chores in a Maasai Village.’ The photo was taken in Kajiado Country, Kenya, and featured the village sheep and cattle being herded towards the grazing farmlands.