Wildlife photographers get to see Mother Nature’s humorous side when they’re out in the field.
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, a free competition open to wildlife photographers of all levels, has narrowed down some of the funniest moments of 2022, and they’re sharing it with the public.
Five thousand images were reportedly submitted from more than 85 countries, according to the award competition’s press release.
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The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’ “overall winner” this year is Jennifer Hadley, a wildlife photographer from Austin, Texas.
Her photo of a three-month-old lion cub falling from a tree in the Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania. The action shot was voted the overall winner, and it earned the top spot in the Creatures of the Land category.
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Hadley reportedly entitled the photo “Not So Cat-Like Reflexes” and wrote that the lion cub was likely making his first attempt to climb a tree in her contest submission.
“I think part of what makes this contest great is that most of these photos probably happen by complete accident and that was certainly the case with the lion cub falling out of the tree,” Hadley told competition organizers, in a statement.
“It was very late in the afternoon and so I had my aperture as open as possible to capture the most light possible with my shutter down lower than I would have liked but I figured with the cub walking around in the tree, I didn’t really need the speed, she recalled. “It didn’t even occur to me that he would make a go of getting down by himself in the most un-cat like fashion.”
Hadley said the moment was shocking, but the lion cub quickly righted himself mid-fall and landed on his four paws – seemingly unharmed.
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“[He] ran off with his siblings,” she told the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. “A happy ending for a hapless kitty who didn’t quite know how to get down from a tree.”
As the overall winner of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, Hadley has earned a handmade trophy, a photography bag and a safari tour with Alex Walker’s Serian Camp in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Hadley also won an Affinity Photo 2 People’s Choice Award for her “Talk To The Fin!” image, where she photographed a gentoo penguin seemingly waving off his mate on a beach in the Falkland Islands of South America.
Four other wildlife photographers took home big awards from the annual competition.
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Jean Jacques Alcalay of France won a Spectrum Photo Creatures of The Air Award for his “Misleading African Viewpoints 2” image, which shows a heron standing on the back of a swimming hippo in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. A second hippo is close to the heron and has its mouth open in what appears to be a yawn.
Arturo Telle Thiemann of Span won a Creatures Under the Water Award for his “Say Cheeeeeeese,” where he photographed two grey triggerfish swimming up to him for an extreme close-up in the North Atlantic waters around Faial Island, an island in the Azores region of Portugal.
“Even [though] they may look funny, these fish can be quite aggressive,” Thiemann wrote in his photo submission. “In this case they didn’t attempt to bite me, but the dome port of my camera housing ended up with some scratches… life is hard… at least it wasn’t me who was hurt.”
Jia Chen, a wildlife photographer won an Amazing Internet Portfolio Award for his four-part photo series “Football Dream,” which shows a Coopers Hawk in Ontario, Canada, swooping down and kicking a pinecone in a way that resembles a soccer play.
Arshdeep Singh of India won a Junior Award for his “ICU Boy!” image, which shows a spotted owl winking from what appears to be a pipe nest in Bikaner, India.
Singh told the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards he captured the owl on the last day of his trip to Bikaner.
“It was really funny when he came out and looked at me straight, before going inside he closed one of his eyes and felt like he wanted to say ‘I [see you] boy!’ and I immediately snapped a picture when he gave this pose,” Singh wrote in his contest submission.
Ten other wildlife photographers earned Highly Commended honors from the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, including Michael Eastwell, Miroslave Srb, Federica Vinci, Jagdeep Rajput, Emmanuel Do Linh San, Ryan Sims, Alex Pansier, Mark Schoken, John Chaney and Martin Grace.
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The commended photographs were captured in the U.S., Australia, Cambodia, India, South Africa, Netherlands and East Falkland.
Notable images include a pair of bouncing wallabies, an accidental Pegasus and a friendly raccoon who appeared to be waving at the camera.
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was founded in 2015 by English professional photographers, Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, both of whom identify themselves as “passionate conservationists,” according to the competition’s press release.
Joynson-Hicks and Sullam reportedly stated the competition to showcase funny wildlife photographs that provide “light-hearted relief and joy.”
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The competition is partnered with the Whitley Fund for Nature, a wildlife charity based in the U.K., and it has reportedly donated 10% of its net revenue to the conservation group.