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World of Wonders

Take a closer look at some of our favorite images from TNC's 2021 global photo contest.

Spring 2022

in a black & white image, a wildebeest leaps with many wildebeests in the background
Powerful Moments Photographers submitted breathtaking images to The Nature Conservancy’s 2021 photo contest. Here, Anup Shah captured wildebeests in Kenya. © Anup Shah/TNC Photo Contest 2021

In 2021, photographers from 158 countries submitted a total of 100,190 pictures to The Nature Conservancy’s global photo contest. Here are some of the winning images from around the world.

a person in blue seen from behind on amber sand, with white head scarf unraveling in the wind
Second Place, People and Nature A guide in the Sahara Desert dunes of Erg Chebbi, Morocco, struggles against a sandstorm. © Tom Overall/TNC Photo Contest 2021
in a black & white image, a silhouetted person carries an instrument & water spills from a pipe above
First Place, Water A farmer carries a weeding machine beneath an irrigation pump in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh. © Kazi Arifujjaman/TNC Photo Contest 2021
in an underwater image, someone in blue swims, surrounded by numerous pieces of brightly colored garbage
Third Place, People and Nature A diver swims among trash—including plastic bottles and medical masks—in the Bosporus Strait in Turkey. © Sebnem Coskun/TNC Photo Contest 2021
several divers are silhouetted against a blue water background, in a beam of light streaming down from a hole in the ground at top of image
Second Place, Water In the Ruta de los Cenotes near Puerto Morelos, Mexico, freedivers, scuba divers and swimmers enjoy a watering hole—one of thousands of cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula. © Joram Mennes/TNC Photo Contest 2021
seen from above, alligator-like carcass blends into brown cracked dirt seen in all directions
First Place, Landscape A caiman carcass is seen during the dry season in the Brazilian portion of the Pantanal wetlands, the world’s largest tropical wetland area. © Daniel De Granville Manço/TNC Photo Contest 2021

“I took this picture during a visit to the Pantanal wetlands just a few days after the region was struck by the worst wildfires in its recent history. I have been visiting that area frequently for many years, but had never faced such a sad scenario of destruction.” 

—Photographer Daniel de Granville Manço


in a geometric image seen from above, pools of different brown hues are seen against each other with a dark stream running between them
Third Place, Landscape Seen from above, the San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds change colors and patterns because of the microorganisms and high salinity within them. © Jassen Todorov/TNC Photo Contest 2021
against a dark blue background, a silhouetted tree is seen covered in neon green-like specks of light (fireflies)
People’s Choice Award Fireflies congregate just before monsoon season begins in India. They gather on a single tree in an image made by stacking 32 photos taken over 16 minutes. © Prathamesh Ghadekar/TNC Photo Contest 2021

“I decided to venture out every night [to find the fireflies]. Luckily, one night I could see many places where there were a lot of fireflies, but still I could not find that one tree where I could isolate the fireflies from the rest of the frame. After about three hours, I saw this tree and immediately knew this was it.” 

—Photographer Prathamesh Ghadekar


in an underwater image, two large fish are seen up close with one fish caught in the mouth of the other, grass/seaweed surround them
Third Place, Wildlife A pike catches a large perch in a flooded granite quarry called Leštinka in the Czech Republic. © Viktor Vrbovsky/TNC Photo Contest 2021
a large green tree or moss covered plateau stretches toward the viewer and stands above a stretch of clouds and fog
Second Place, Landscape The Serra do Mar, or ”mountain range of the sea,” in southeastern Brazil, rises above the clouds. © Denis Ferreira Netto/TNC Photo Contest 2021
in a black & white image, a wall divides the image into two sides: on left, a boy sits on a staircase alone, on right, dozens of windows and balconies are seen on the side of a building
Honorable Mention, People and Nature A man sitting alone on a staircase is contrasted with the intensity of a nearby building in Hong Kong (above). The photo shows that in Hong Kong, “space is precious.” © Wax Leung/TNC Photo Contest 2021
seen from above, a small baby orangutan lies on its back on an operating table. many gloved hands reach out to hold it
First Place, People and Nature A team of workers from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme prepare Brenda, a 3-month-old orangutan, for surgery to repair her humerus. Brenda was confiscated from a home where she was being kept as a pet. © Alain Schroeder/TNC Photo Contest 2021

“When I saw the number of people around the operation table, I decided immediately to get on a chair. The ceiling was not very high so I could hold on to the ceiling to be stable to shoot the picture.” 

—Photographer Alain Schroeder

amid swift brown water, 4 cheetah heads peak above the water with gritted teeth
First Place, Wildlife Amid incessant and unseasonal rains, a coalition of male cheetahs—known as Tano Bora, or the “The Magnificent Five”—cross the flooded Talek River in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. Remarkably, all five (four visible here) survived the crossing. © Buddhilini de Soyza/TNC Photo Contest 2021
several small orange and brown birds are seen on snowy ground with gray remnants of large sunflower stems standing above them with dead sunflower heads hanging
Second Place, Wildlife In Poland, a field of sunflowers attracts birds looking for seeds. © Mateusz Piesiak/TNC Photo Contest 2021
in a black & white image, a wildebeest leaps with many wildebeests in the background
Honorable Mention, Wildlife A herd of wildebeests is photographed using a remote camera in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. © Anup Shah/TNC Photo Contest 2021

Want to learn more?

See more winning images and get updates on future Nature Conservancy photo contests: