Shadow by Ulrich Wolf Pangolin Photo Challenge

“Best of 2023” Challenge

In this week’s blog post, we showcase the top picks from our Best of 2023 category. See our highly commended images and the overall winner selected from a pool of outstanding submissions.

We’re also announcing the winners of the PRO Photo Challenge and our Lucky Draw.

Ready to join the excitement? Learn more about the 2024 Pangolin Photo Challenge here. It’s your chance to win amazing safari prizes!

Didn’t catch the Best of 2023 Finalists video?

View the video here, and then share your thoughts on who should win. Afterwards, take a look at our images below to see if your predictions were correct.

Highly Commended
Will I Ever Be That Tall?, by Irene Claire Waring

will i ever be that tall by irene claire pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R5 with an RF100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM

f/5.6 | 1/2500 | 300 mm | ISO 320

Irene Claire Waring’s beautiful high-key photograph, “Will I Ever Be That Tall?”, features two adult Emperor Penguins and a chick. Using a Canon EOS R5 with an RF100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens, the picture captures the vivid features of the adults and the chick’s soft grey plumage.

In this heartwarming scene from Snow Hill, Antarctica, the Emperor Penguin chick gazes up at two adults in the colony. Though not necessarily related, these adults provide a sense of comfort to the curious chick, who will seek warmth and protection from any available adult.

Highly Commended
by Julia T. Brown

love by julia t brown pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R5 with an EF600mm f/4L IS II USM

f/11 | 1/1250 | 600 mm | ISO 250

Julia T. Brown’s “Love” photograph captures a tender moment between a mother polar bear and her two-to-three-month-old cub. Taken with a Canon EOS R5 and an EF600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the image shows the cub resting with its mom before continuing their journey to the ice. With f/11, 1/1250, and ISO 250 settings, Julia beautifully conveys the bond and warmth shared between the bears amidst their harsh, icy environment.

Highly Commended
Turning Tail, by Veronique Pretorius

turning tail by veronique pretorius pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R6

f/5.6 | 1/1600 | 600 mm | ISO 500

Veronique Pretorius’s photograph, “Turning Tail,” captures a dramatic scene in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. On a cold winter morning, Veronique observed a herd of Oryx kicking up dust and mock fighting. Suddenly, chaos erupted as a cheetah pursued a calf. The cheetah caught the calf right in front of her, but the calf’s mother intervened, charging at the cheetah with her horns. The cheetah leapt away, trailing dust in an arch, creating a powerful and dynamic image. This moment highlights the raw intensity and unpredictability of wildlife in action.

Highly Commended
Next Generation, by Paul Fenton

next generation by paul fenton pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R5 with an RF600mm F4 L IS USM

f/8 | 1/4000 | 600 mm | ISO 1600

Paul Fenton’s “Next Generation” depicts a male Nankeen Kestrel feeding its chicks. Captured using a Canon EOS R5 and an RF600mm F4 L IS USM lens, this photograph skillfully harmonises light and shadow. The imminent milestone of fledging is approaching as the father cares for his offspring, clearly visible in intricate detail even amidst the shadows.

Shadow, by Ulrich Wolf

backlit darter by maggie bullock pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R5 with an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM

f/6.3 | 1/2000 | 376 mm | ISO 160

Ulrich Wolf’s winning photograph, “Shadow,” captures a breathtaking moment in Svalbard just before sunset. Taken with a Canon EOS R5 and an EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens, this black-and-white image showcases a polar bear walking along the coast, framed by the setting sun.

In this meticulously timed shot, Ulrich captures the bear’s legs and fur illuminated perfectly by the sun, highlighting each detail with striking clarity. The photograph beautifully balances light and shadow, emphasising the bear’s majestic presence in its natural habitat.

PRO Pangolin Photo Challenge 2023

Highly Commended
Elephant Skin, by Bart Marantz

elephant skin by bart marantz pro pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with an 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports 018 +1.4x

f/8 | 1/2000 | 415 mm | ISO 640

Bart Marantz’s “Elephant Skin” black-and-white photograph showcases the rugged, textured skin of an elephant. This image emphasises the intricate details of the elephant’s skin, portraying the resilience and majesty of these extraordinary creatures.

Highly Commended
Trouble in the Herd, by Alex Brackx

trouble in the herd by alex brackx pro pangolin photo challenge

NIKON Z 9 with a VR 24-70mm f/2.8E

f/4 | 1/1000 | 70 mm | ISO 500

Alex Brackx’s black and white photograph, “Trouble in the Herd,” captures a dramatic moment among a group of buffalos at a hide in Zimanga, South Africa. Taken with a NIKON Z 9 and a VR 24-70mm f/2.8E lens, this image was shot from a low angle, providing an intimate perspective.

Alex skillfully freezes the action as the buffalos approach a waterhole, some calmly and others in a rush. The tension peaks when a scuffle breaks out right in front of the camera, highlighting the powerful and intriguing nature of these mammals.

Highly Commended
Beautiful World of Biota, by Trikansh Sharma

Beautiful World of Biota by Trikansh Sharma PRO Pangolin Photo Challenge

NIKON Z 9 with an NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

f/2.8 | 1/6400 | 70 mm | ISO 500

In Trikansh Sharma’s photo, “Beautiful World of Biota,” two herds of Asiatic Elephants and Spotted Deer graze peacefully at the foothills of the Himalayas in Corbett Tiger Reserve, India. Shot with a NIKON Z 9 and NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens, the scene is bathed in the soft morning sunlight, creating a serene ambience.

Rain Stars, by Matrishva Vyas

rain stars by matrishva vyas pro pangolin photo challenge

NIKON Z 9 with an NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

f/6 | 1/1000 | 330 mm | ISO 10000

Matrishva Vyas’s winning photograph, “Rain Stars,” stands out as a winner of the PRO Best of 2023 Challenge. The photo captures a male lion shaking water off its mane in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. It beautifully showcases water droplets cascading from the lion’s mane, creating a mesmerising scene set against the backdrop of the African savannah.

Lucky Draw Winner
Lemur Katta, by Juliane Bemmann

Lemur Katta by Juliane Bemmann Pangolin Photo Challenge


f/7.1 | 1/100 | 315 mm | ISO 1000

Juliane Bemmann’s photo “Lemur Katta” captures a serene moment at Madagascar’s Anja Park with a ring-tailed Lemur. The monochrome portrait shows the lemur’s calm demeanour in its natural habitat.


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