Mana Pools image wins prestigious World Nature Photography Award

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By Staff Reporter

A PICTURE of a crocodile swimming through the mud at the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe has been selected as the grand prize winner of the 2022 World Nature Photography Awards (WNPA), which honoured the most evocative shots from thousands of entries in a variety of categories.

Titled ‘Danger in the Mud’, the picture, which also claimed gold in the ‘Animal Portraits’ category, shows a cleverly disguised crocodile in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.

The German photographer learned of his win while on location in Botswana and said he was thrilled about his victory.

From a satellite phone, he shared a bit about the story behind the winning photograph.

“This photograph is the result of my staking out the largest pool in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, at a time when an extended drought had reduced the pool to rapidly drying mud. I had to be very careful not to disturb the crocodile, even though it was buried in dry mud. They will launch themselves with tremendous speed and power at any animal foolish enough to come too close.”

Cullmann also explained why the hot temperatures cause the crocodile to cover itself in mud.

“During the dry season, temperatures can reach 45 degrees Celsius and crocodiles will attempt to reduce their body temperature by burying themselves in mud. A giant crocodile such as this one could survive submerged for months without eating, by living off its fat reserves. This is a process known as aestivation.”

A general view of the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe

The competition has 14 categories that explore wildlife and the natural world.

The 2023 awards are now open for entry to all photographers who think they have what it takes to be the best.

The annual World Nature Photography Awards (WNPAs) was founded on the belief that ‘photography can influence people to see the world from a different perspective and change their own habits for the good of the planet’.

The 2022 edition of the contest saw thousands of entries flood in from 45 countries across six continents, but one picture proved the clear winner for the judges, earning German photographer Jens Cullmann the title of World Nature Photographer of the Year and the £834 ($1,000) grand prize.

In addition Cullmann’s ‘striking’ winning photograph, other prize-winning photographs include a shot of an elephant attempting to hide behind a tree in South Africa, a powerful picture of a storm-cloud swirling over Iowa and a mesmerising image of the night sky taken from inside an Icelandic glacier.

Adrian Dinsdale, the co-founder of the WNPAs, said: “We congratulate all our winners and offer our deepest thanks for capturing such spectacular images of our precious planet. Once again, we hope it provides great motivation to us all to do everything we can to protect the Earth for future generations.