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Around the world, there are wildlife photographers whose work is having a powerful impact - whether inspiring awe and wonder for nature, documenting vital conservation efforts or supporting fellow photographers.
This new series from Wildlife Photographer of the Year aims to highlight and celebrate those photographers who are working hard to create advocates for nature.
We invited international photography organisations to nominate wildlife photographers who they felt were making a positive difference through their work, and that were not yet awarded in our annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. We particularly encouraged nominations from countries that are currently underrepresented in the competition, and women and nonbinary photographers.
After reviewing each of the nominations, National Geographic photo editor Jennifer Samuel selected five photographers to feature in our first edition of WPY Horizons.
From capturing carnivorous plants to documenting abseiling conservation specialists, meet the inspiring photographers and discover more about their work.
Andria Hautamaki told the story about Rocky Mountain National Park through a variety of perspectives and moments which made for great visual storytelling.
National Geographic photo editor
Andria is a photo and print journalist with a passion for rural, agricultural, and environmental stories. She grew up in Colorado, USA, and is currently based between Colorado and Southern Chile.
'In Estes Park, Colorado - the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park - the same animals that attract guests and delight residents are also the cause behind an increase in urban wildlife conflicts. The National Park's popularity, in conjunction with the rapidly growing population of the Colorado Front Range, creates an increasingly challenging environment for local authorities,' says Andria.
In her project, 'Close encounters with the bear kind', she focuses on how Estes Park is grappling with the often conflicting goals of keeping animals wild and people safe. Navigating this relationship requires adopting and implementing wildlife-safe practices and working with locals to adapt to and respect the animals that inhabit the Rocky Mountains region.
Anthony Ochieng's images of rangers, caretakers and fishermen at work captured some beautiful moments and told me so much about them and their work.
Anthony is a wildlife ecologist, educator, conservation photographer, and filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. He also currently runs TonyWild, a platform for promoting conservation action by creating awareness through photography, film, and science.
From fishing practices to ecotourism, much of Anthony's work is focused on encouraging further conservation action. One of his projects has included documenting community scout rangers, like Shaban Mwinji, in Mikoko Pamoja. Mikoko Pamoja is a community-led mangrove conservation and restoration project based in southern Kenya. It aims to provide long-term incentives for mangrove protection and restoration through community involvement and benefit.
Roshni Lodhia's use of color and rhythm is really wonderful.
Roshni is a third generation Indian-Tanzanian who after almost a decade in the USA decided to change careers, move back to Tanzania and make a difference in the communities where she was raised.
Over the last few years, Roshni has focused on telling visual stories of grassroots conservation efforts through photography and film. 'I learned that nature conservation isn't siloed to wildlife and forest management. It's also about the communities that use these natural resources. Conservation today is about tackling education, poverty and governments and empowering indigenous communities,' says Roshni.
Her projects have included working with Grumeti Fund managers in the Serengeti to photograph wildlife rescue scenes such as the release of a giraffe from a snare that was likely set by poachers. In South Africa's Boland mountains, Roshni also documented the hard work of trained abseilers scaling the cliffs to cut down water-thirsty invasive pine trees in one of the most botanically diverse areas on Earth.
Making unique wildlife images is not easy and Samantha Stephens' use of contrast and colour, especially in her close-up work, stood out.
Samantha Stephens is a Canadian biologist turned photographer for science and conservation. She uses her photography to communicate wildlife science — especially when that science is relevant to conservation issues.
Samantha currently spends most of her time at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station in Canada where she works as the Communications Manager. Here, she has captured this special scene with carnivorous Northern pitcher plants. 'Typically, these plants feast on invertebrates—such as moths and flies— but researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station discovered a surprising new item on the plant's menu: juvenile spotted salamanders. This population is the first to be found regularly consuming vertebrate prey,' says Samantha.
She has also shadowed researchers monitoring snapping and painted turtles in Algonquin Provincial Park. 'Not only are long-term wildlife monitoring studies necessary for understanding long-lived animals like turtles, but they have also become invaluable resources for understanding how wildlife populations are changing over time in response to climate change.'
Shivang Mehta's expert use of a camera trap has really made some stunning images of rare species in India.
Wildlife photographer and author, Shivang Mehta's love for wildlife and nature led him to begin his field career in the Sal forests of Kumaon, India nearly two decades ago. Since then, he has led over 100 wildlife photography tours and mentored many amateur photographers.
Linked to his passion for technologies such as camera traps and remote shooting, Shivang also specializes in photographing rare species, including clouded leopards, snow leopards, fishing cats and red pandas. It was with a camera trap that Shivang recorded the rare golden cat, found in the northeastern part of India.
A focus on rare or elusive species has also led Shivang to photograph critically endangered species, such as the gharial, found in the freshwater rivers of India. 'This species is under tremendous threat due to high mortality of their young as thousands of such hatchlings are washed away at the onset of monsoons,' says Shivang.