A neighbourly polar bear and a startled sloth: The best of the rest from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022


The annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is the most prestigious prize in its field, producing many famous winners and incredible stories for many years.

This year’s prize is set to be no different. Ahead of the official prize winners being announced in October, the competition has just released a set of highly commended images that have been submitted for this year’s contest.

These are the images that, though spectacular, didn’t quite make it into the final shortlist.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London, where the redesigned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will open on 14 October 2022.

Burrow mates

A wild Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit triggers a camera trap near a burrow on the Nature Conservancy-owned Beezley Hills complex between Ephrata and Quincy, Washington, USA. Photo by Morgan Heim/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Underwater wonderland

European perch in cloud of algae

European perch photographed underwater in a cloud of algae, Honkalampi, Posio, Finland. Photo by Tiina Törmänen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The right look

southern right whale swimming close to photographer

New Zealand’s population of southern right whales ( Eubalaena australis), known as ‘tohorā’ in Māori, were hunted to near extinction by European whalers in the 1800s. Now, after huge conservation efforts, their numbers have since recovered. This curious young calf was fascinated by the photographer taking its picture, and kept swimming past to take a closer look. Photo by Richard Robinson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The disappearing giraffe

Located at the edge of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi National Park is a safe haven for hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles and plants. In 2019, Kenya completed the so-called Phase 2A Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), building a 6km railway stretch on 178 pillars through the middle of the park. Conservationists and environmentalists have warned that the impacts of SGR on the park will be devastating. Nairobi National Park has already been affected by rapid urbanisation, infrastructure development and rising land prices around it. This picture shows a giraffe running between railway pillars because of the noise and the vibration of an approaching train. Photo by Jose Fragozo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Sloth dilemma

This brown-throated three-toed sloth ( Bradypus variegatus) is being sniffed by a dog after climbing down palm trees at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica. The dog thankfully only wanted to investigate, before leaving the sloth to carry on their journey. Photo by Suzi Eszterhas/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The snow stag

Stag in a snow storm

A red deer stag stands majestically as the snow falls in Richmond Park, London, United Kingdom. Photo by Joshua Cox/Wildlife Photographer of the Year



Surrounded by mining tools and the remains of animals, coltan is an important material in the production of laptops and mobile phones. Gorilla bones, all seized by customs authorities, are also displayed and includes a skull, vertebrae and leg bones. Coltan is extracted from the riverbeds of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by poorly paid miners who also hunt wild animals, such as gorillas, for food. Photo by Britta Jaschinski/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The octopus case

Coconut Octopus in a shell

A coconut octopus ( Amphioctopus marginatus) photographed in the black sands of Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia. The coconut octopus is one of the worlds most intelligent invertebrates, and one of the sea creatures that has ever been seen using tools. Especially in the sandy slopes of Lembeh, with very few places to hide, it has developed unique survival strategies, which gives it the title of one of the ocean’s most resourceful animals. It can create mobile homes with many different shells, and can carry them around while ‘walking’ on two of its arms. Photo by Samuel Sloss/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Just one day’s catch

Aerial view marlin and sailfish caught in one day

Recently caught marlin and sailfish are laid out on the ground in this aerial image shot by drone, at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Sailfish and marlin are top ocean predators, and are thus essential to ecosystems. Globally, 85 per cent of fish stocks are currently overexploited by humans. Without urgent efforts to protect marine habitats and create truly sustainable fishing practices, some species may soon become extinct. Photo by Srikanth Mannepuri/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

More images from Science Focus:

Tree frog pool party


A gathering of male gliding tree frogs ( Agalychnis spurrelli) cling to palm fronds while they call to females. At dawn, thousands of females arrived at the pool at Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, to mate and lay their eggs on overhanging palm fronds. Here, unmated males search for females to mate with. These spectacular mass-breeding events occur in a few remote locations a few times a year. Each female lays around 200 eggs, creating huge egg masses. Eventually, the tadpoles will drop into the water below. Photo by Brandon Güell/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Dipper dispute

Birds fighting

A pair of dippers have a territorial dispute over a spot used for hunting mayflies and small fish. Photographed at Kuusamo, North Ostrobothnia, Finland. Photo by Heikki Nikki/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The lost floods

Zambezi River drought

While experiencing the worst drought in thirty years, Zambezi River Authority station manager Lubinda Lubinda stands in between his old and new house on the Barotse floodplain, one of Africa’s great floodplains. The water that would normally reach the bottom of his old house on the left, stayed several meters lower than in previous years. The Barotse floodplain act as a sponge, structuring much of the Zambezi catchment and providing a much-needed ‘safety-valve’ against climate effects such as droughts and floods for local communities but also for countries downstream. With droughts increasing due to changes in the global climate, the longterm ecological function of the Barotse floodplain is slowly disappearing, threatening not only the livelihoods of approximately 250,000 people and the economic stability of this part of the world, but also the area’s biodiversity. Photo by Jasper Doest/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Polar frame

Polar bear in uninhabited village

A polar bear peers out of a window frame in Kolyuchin, in the Russian High Arctic. This settlement was abandoned by humans in 1992. Polar bears are extremely inquisitive, and will investigate abandoned structures for potential food. With climate change reducing sea ice, hunting is becoming increasingly difficult, pushing these bears closer to human settlements to scavenge. Photo by Dmitry Kokh/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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