Image of Endangered Orangutan Wins World Nature Photography Awards

The World Nature Photography Awards has announced its 2020 winners, with the grand prize going to Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan for his photo of an endangered Bornean orangutan.

Based in London, England, The World Nature Photography awards are relatively new and was created by a group of sustainability professionals to host a competition that not only wished to promote some of the best photographers but also do something for the planet. The organization supports two climate change charities: Clean Air Task Force and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

“Whilst we know that the challenges around climate change are enormous, amazing things can be achieved if we all come together to affect change,” the organization writes. “That’s the philosophy behind the World Nature Photography Awards. We believe that we can all make small efforts to shape the future of our planet in a positive way and photography can go a long way in influencing people to see the world from a different perspective and change their own habits for the good of the planet.”

2020’s competition saw entries come in from 20 countries across 6 continents. The competition is broken into multiple categories (as seen below) and the highest scoring image across all categories as noted by the judges takes the top prize.

Vijayan’s image of an orangutan, which is also the winner of the “Animals in Their Habitat” category, won this year’s top award and a cash prize of $1000. To take the photo below, Vijayan says he spent hours up a tree, waiting to see if one of the local orangutans would use it to cross over to a nearby island.

Photo by Thomas Vijayan

Below are the winners from the other categories:

Animal Portraits

Photo by Nick Dale

Behaviour – Amphibians and Reptiles

Photo by Vittorio Ricci

Behaviour – Birds

Photo by Dale Paul

Behaviour – Invertebrates

Photo by Dr. Tze Siong Tan


Behaviour – Mammals

Photo by Patrick Nowotny

Plants and Fungi

Photo by Doron Talmi

Urban Wildlife

Photo by Lawrence Worcester

Planet Earth’s Landscapes and Environments

Photo by Alessandro Gruzza

Black and White

Photo by Harry Skeggs

Nature Art

Photo by Dipanjan Pal

Nature Photojournalism

Photo by Gunther De Bruyne

This photo might warrant some context: It depicts a white Rhino being dehorned to prevent its targeting by poachers. This may seem cruel, however, it’s a highly effective conservation strategy that is used as a last resort.

“All rhino species are, or have been, on the brink of extinction due to the popularity of their horn in Asia,” the photo’s description reads. “But to get things right: Rhino horn is composed of keratin, the very same substance that forms our fingernails. Nowadays, even in Asia, it’s widely known that rhino horn has no medicinal value or any other beneficial effect. However, the fewer rhinos left, the higher the price, which unfortunately made rhino horn consumption a status symbol.”

People and Nature

Photo by Christa Funk

To see the runners up in each category, visit the competition’s website here.

Image credits: All photos individually credited and used courtesy of the World Nature Photography Awards.

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