Welcome to the 2023 Pangolin Photo Challenge…which is a little different this year!
We have decided to increase the number of challenges to ten, with a prize pool of over $50,000, but instead of having to rush to meet the deadlines we set last year, you have from now until the end of the year to enter as many challenges as you like.
We have also simplified the competition and removed the need to have a portfolio for the grand prize. As with last year, every image you enter will count as a ticket in a lucky draw to win a photo safari just by entering!
All images need to have been taken in 2022 or 2023 (except for the Best of 2023, of course), and this is going to be an Amateur-Only competition. See here for our separate PRO Pangolin Photo Challenge.
Toby Explains the Challenge in Detail
Entry Is FREE!
Last year we asked for donations to the Kalahari Wildlife Project to support their pangolin rescue and rehabilitation work, and we raised over R600,000, which was amazing! Thank you!
This year we are not asking for any money, but just some of your time to learn more about African Pangolins and what to do when you see one in the wild. It’s that simple.
All you need to do is complete our Pangolin Guardians online course, and when you have done so, your Pangolin Photo Challenge account will be opened for you straight away with a credit to enter up to ten images!
Our 2023 Pangolin Photo Challenges
Birds of the World
The Red List
Wildlife In Motion
Water as an Element
The Small Stuff
Best of 2023
What the Judges Are Looking For
Welcome to the Birds of the World round of The Pangolin Photo Challenge. This is a unique opportunity to showcase your artistic talents while drawing attention to the stunning avian life that populates our planet.
This round is all about capturing the beauty, grace, and diversity of wild birds in their natural habitats. From the mightiest eagles soaring high in the sky to the tiniest hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower, we want to see how you encapsulate the essence of these magnificent creatures through your lens.
We are looking for photographs that portray wild birds in an authentic and respectful manner. In order to preserve the integrity of wildlife photography and the well-being of our subjects, we insist that the birds be wild and not captive. Additionally, we strictly prohibit the use of bait in capturing your images. This is a chance to document their natural behaviours and interactions, a candid snapshot of untamed and unspoiled avian life.
Images of birds at permanent water sources like bird baths, ponds, waterholes etc are allowed. This does not constitute baiting in our opinion as long as the water source is not being stocked with fish eg Trout farm or water hole hide where fish are transported to rather than being allowed to breed naturally.
Useful Video: Bird Photography Tips – https://youtu.be/VSv3gvDLKOY
Welcome to the Monochrome Wildlife round of our Pangolin Photo Challenge. As the name suggests, this round pays homage to the evocative power of black-and-white imagery. It’s time to cast away the vibrant spectrum and delve into the stark and stirring world of those grayscale tones!.
We’re looking for the transformation of wildlife into shades of grey. Can you portray the majesty of an elephant, the grace of a gazelle, or the ferocity of a falcon through light and shadow alone? Can you evoke the primal beauty of nature’s creatures with a stripped-down palette?
We want to see compositions that stir emotions, tell stories, and reveal the undeniable truth of nature — its rawness, its beauty, its struggles, and its victories — all through the stark duality of black and white. Use light, contrast, texture, and form to showcase the essence of your subject without the distraction of colour. Be it the tiniest insect, the mightiest beast, or anything in between, make it shine in the binary elegance of monochrome.
Creativity and originality are key in this round. Show us a new perspective, a different angle, or a fresh way of seeing familiar animals. We encourage the use of different black-and-white techniques — high contrast, low key, high key, and everything in between — to really bring your vision to life.
Useful Video: Black and White editing with Janine – https://youtu.be/-wHe-orCUt0
We welcome you to the poignant and urgent round of our Pangolin Photo Challenge — The Red List. This segment is a testament to the species that are on the brink, the ones that are facing the harshest trials of survival.
Click here to visit the IUCN Red List website to see which species are on the list.
This round demands your focus on the creatures that are listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. These animals, whether they are ‘Critically Endangered’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’, are at risk of disappearing from our planet. Your mission is to capture their struggle, their beauty, and their inherent dignity, and in doing so, create awareness and inspire action.
Creativity and originality are key in this round. Show us a new perspective, a different angle, or a fresh way of seeing familiar animals that you maybe surprised to see on the list.
Welcome to the dynamic and captivating Animal Behaviour round of our Pangolin Photo Challenge. This round offers you an exciting platform to delve into the complex world of animal behaviour, capturing extraordinary moments that reflect the intricacies of their lives.
In this round, we’re inviting you to observe, document, and present the fascinating behaviours of animals in the wild. Be it the intricate dance of a courtship display, the coordinated efforts of a hunting pack, a mother tenderly caring for her young, or any other mesmerising aspect of animal behaviour, we want to see it through your lens.
It is important to remember that our subjects must be wild, not captive, and there should be no interference or manipulation in capturing the images. We’re seeking authentic glimpses into the lives of animals as they are in their natural environments.
Creativity and originality are key in this round. Show us a new perspective, a different angle, or a fresh way of seeing familiar animals.
Useful Video: Janine’s Go-To Nature Photography Settings – https://youtu.be/0Qu3wnCtiAU
Welcome to the thrilling and dynamic Wildlife in Motion round of The Pangolin Photo Challenge. This round challenges you to capture the very essence of movement in the animal kingdom. From the fleet-footed cheetah sprinting across the plains to the soaring eagle diving for its prey to the humble rabbit bounding through a field, we want to see nature in action through your lens.
This round is all about illustrating the speed, agility, and grace inherent to wildlife. Whether it’s the raw power of a predator’s chase, the delicate flutter of a butterfly, or the synchronised motion of a school of fish, we’re interested in images that evoke a sense of motion and make us feel as though we’re right there with the animals.
Remember, the animals in your photographs must be wild and not captive, and all images should be taken ethically, without any form of disturbance or manipulation of natural behaviour. The animals’ well-being and respect for their natural environment should always take precedence.
Useful Video: Panning Photography Tutorial – https://youtu.be/7xPJbiGvxf4
Welcome to the intriguing Urban Wildlife round of our Pangolin Photo Challenge. This round is a celebration of the resilience of wildlife and their adaptability to coexist with us in our bustling cities and sprawling suburbs. From the foxes prowling in your backyards to the falcons nesting on high-rises, we’re interested in the often overlooked wild neighbours that share our urban landscapes.
This round calls for images that depict wildlife against the backdrop of city life. Your task is to capture moments of nature that occur amid concrete jungles and the interplay between the urban and the wild. Showcase how these wild creatures adapt, survive, and sometimes even thrive in the heart of our cities.
As always, all animals photographed should be wild, not captive, and should not be baited or manipulated in any way. It’s crucial that these images represent their natural behaviour in an urban setting, and all photos should be taken ethically with the animal’s well-being and respect for their habitat taking precedence.
This round spotlights the incredible diversity of wildlife that thrives in and around water bodies and the beautiful, often dramatic, interplay between water and wildlife.
From the vast oceans and sweeping rivers to quiet ponds and sparkling dewdrops, water is the essence of life. In this round, we’re looking for images that showcase water as an integral part of the scene — be it a habitat, a hunting ground, a playful splash, or a quiet reflection.
The creatures photographed must be wild, not captive, and their natural behaviour should not be manipulated for the shot. Images should be taken ethically, ensuring the welfare of the animals and the integrity of their environment.
Useful Video: High Key is a great option for photographing near water – https://youtu.be/IHnz9NvmK8k
This round is an ode to the small wonders of the animal kingdom—those creatures often overlooked but that make up the beautiful fabric of our ecosystems.
In this round, we’re inviting you to venture into the world of macro-wildlife photography. From the minutely detailed patterns of a butterfly’s wings to the glistening dew on a spider’s web to the unassuming ant carrying a load many times its size, we’re looking for images that bring the smallest members of the wild to the forefront.
The creatures in your photographs must be wild and not captive. All images should be taken ethically, respecting the microhabitats these creatures call home, and without any form of disturbance or manipulation of natural behaviour.
Useful Video: Focus bracketing might help here – https://youtu.be/-FcEftY2XyA
This round asks you to broaden your perspective, capturing not just the animals but the stage upon which the drama of their lives unfolds.
In this round, we are seeking photographs where wildlife is harmoniously integrated into a larger, majestic landscape. Your image should encompass the beautiful surroundings that these creatures call home, whether it’s a lone deer grazing on a tranquil meadow, a bird soaring high above a sprawling mountain range, or a group of penguins on a vast, icy Antarctic expanse.
As always, the animals in your photographs should be wild and not captive, and no form of disturbance or manipulation of natural behaviour should be used in capturing the images. Ethics and respect for the animals and their habitats should take precedence with every click of the shutter.
Here’s a video which explains how to control your backgrounds: https://youtu.be/KW686EO3i1k
This round is a celebration of your best work from this year, showcasing the sheer diversity and beauty of the wildlife that graced our planet in 2023.
In this round, we’re inviting you to submit your most compelling wildlife image taken during the year 2023. Whether it’s a tender moment between a mother and her cub, an explosive action shot of a predator on the hunt, an awe-inspiring bird in flight, or an intimate portrait of an elusive creature, we want to see your finest work that encapsulates the splendour of the natural world.
The subjects of your photographs must be wild, not captive, and should be photographed without disturbing their natural behaviour or habitat. Ethical wildlife photography practises are fundamental in this competition, and your adherence to them is non-negotiable.
Check out last year’s finalists: https://youtu.be/TYlBuByyIV8
Pangolin Photo Challenge 2023
This year’s Pangolin Photo Challenge is simpler and easier to enter than years gone by…but it’s also bigger than ever…and free to enter!!!
There are going to be ten challenges in total, and you can enter up to ten images. You don’t need to enter one per challenge, but you can if you want. The maximum number of images will be 10 for the 2023 challenge. We don’t have a portfolio prize this year. Every image will be judged on its own merits!
For details on what the judges are looking for, please see the separate section on this page.
To create a Pangolin Photo Challenge account, all you need to do is register and complete our Pangolin Guardian online course. This two-part course will not only teach you a few things about pangolins that you might not have known but also share some guidelines on how to enjoy an encounter with a wild pangolin.
It’s a very short and engaging course (suitable for all ages and taking around 15 minutes), and once completed, not only will you become an official Pangolin Guardian, but you will also receive 10 image credits for the Pangolin Photo Challenge. Click here to register for the course now!
Every image that you enter will count as a ticket in the grand prize draw at the end of the year, so you can win a photo safari just by entering!
Images must be taken in 2022 or 2023 (except for the Best of 2023, which is for images taken this year only), and we have detailed rules in the neighbouring section.
9 x Challenge Prizes (except Best of 2023)
The owner of the best image in each of the 9 challenges will win a 4-night stay for one person at The Pangolin Chobe Hotel, including a free day trip to Victoria Falls.
This prize includes (exact details can be seen here):
Best of 2023
The owner of the best image in The Best of 2023 Challenge will win a Chobe and Okavango Delta safari for two people worth nearly $20,000!!!
This prize includes (exact details can be seen here):
The Lucky Draw Prize
The winner of the lucky draw (every image entered is a ticket) will win a 4-night stay at The Pangolin Chobe Hotel for two people.
This prize includes (exact details can be seen here):
Who Can Enter?
The competition is open to all amateur photographers aged 13 or over from any country in the world, with the following two exceptions.
- Employees of Pangolin Photo Safaris and their immediate relatives or household.
- Photo tour leaders, and qualified (full-time or freelance) field guides and trackers. If you are any of these, then you may not enter.
- Professional wildlife photographers who generate more than 20% of their annual income from activities related to wildlife photography eg Stock images, selling prints, hosting seminars and classes etc
This Pangolin Photo Challenge 2023 is divided into ten challenges: Birds of the World, Monochrome Wildlife, The Red List, Animal Behaviour, Wildlife in Motion, Urban Wildlife, Water as an Element, The Small Stuff, Natural Landscapes, and Best of 2023.
When you have completed the Pangolin Guardians course you will be issued with 10 entries to The Pangolin Photo Challenge. You can use these credits in any way you like. One per Challenge or all in one. Its up to you.
The image submitted to the Pangolin Photo Challenge must adhere to the following conditions:
The submitted image must have been taken in 2022 or 2023 (except for the Best of 2023 Challenge, which must have been taken in 2023). The metadata of the file will be inspected to ensure qualification. The capture date will be published on the website along with the image. Please make sure that when you export your image from your editing programme of choice, you select to include the Meta (aka Exif) data with the image. This contains your settings for the display.
You may not enter any images that were submitted in the 2022 Pangolin Photo Challenge. Repeat images will not be considered.
All images should be a faithful representation of the original scene in the natural world. The subject should be wild, not captive. The scene should not be staged for photography. Composite images will not be allowed (except for night photography images). Post-production adjustments can be used, but excessive use will count against the image’s overall standing with the judges.
The judges may request the original image file for review when the shortlist has been completed. This will precede their judgement and declaration of the challenges and portfolio winners and runners-up.
Please note. An image that has previously won a national or international nature photography competition prior to The Pangolin Photo Challenge will NOT be considered. If chosen as a winning image and later found to be in contravention of this rule, it will be disqualified.
The judges reserve the right to refuse photos that they deem unsuitable at their discretion. The image must be the sole property of the submitter and have no third-party publishing rights or restrictions attached to it.
The image must have been taken by the submitter. Your images must be submitted as jpeg files without a watermark. The platform that we use will place a standard watermark on your image to protect it and also allow for the image to be judged anonymously.
The judging process is conducted blindly, so all watermarked images will be rejected. Once the winners have been selected, the competition organisers will delete all the submitted images from their servers or cloud-based storage.
The owners of the winning images give permission for their images to be used for the purposes of promoting the Pangolin Photo Challenge. All entrants give permission to Pangolin Photo Safaris to display their image on the Pangolin Photo Safaris website and social media channels.
Obviously, no AI-generated images will be allowed. If suspected, the judges will be asking for RAW files as well as images taken before and after a sequence.
Editing: Do’s and Don’ts
- Adjust your image in post-production, but don’t get carried away. Adjustments in exposure, contrast, white balance, sharpness, and local adjustments are allowed.
- Cropping is fine, but make sure that it is not in some strange shape or cropped too small so as to lose image quality.
- Turning your image from colour to black and white (or similar) is fine.
- You may remove sensor spots from the image.
- We will allow for HDR manipulation and focus stacking as long as they are used with restraint.
- Panoramas are allowed.
- Add anything to the image in post-production.
- Use effects like frames or canvas mimicry.
- Include a watermark on the image, as the judging is done blind.
- Remove any object in the image that would constitute more than 5% of the image (except for sensor spots).
We acknowledge that editing software has become increasingly sophisticated at removing elements from images (in fact, Sabine made a video about it here). We would not advise using this technology too enthusiastically, as we will be requesting the original image, and a drastic elemental removal would count against you in a tight contest.
No images that have used live or dead bait when capturing the image will be allowed in this photo competition. If the judges suspect that a subject has been coerced, baited, or harassed, the image will be disqualified from the competition.
To clarify, we do not consider photographing a bird or mammal drinking or bathing in a permanent water source (waterhole, man-made lake or reservoir, garden pond, or birdbath) to be a baiting scenario. If the body of water has been stocked with fish, for example, for the purposes of capturing images of birds fishing, we would consider this to be baiting. This includes hides where fish are replenished regularly, rather than a natural breeding ground for the fish. If you are not sure, then please email us at email@example.com with information on the scenario in question so we can make a judgement call.
Agreement of Participation
By entering an image into this photo competition, you agree to and are bound by the rules set out above. Entrants agree to have their names added to the Pangolin Photo Safaris email newsletter database. This will be the primary method of communication and updates.
The judging of The Pangolin Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be carried out by The Pangolin Photo Hosts and Directors as well as guest judges selected for their skill and expertise in the field of wildlife and landscape photography. The judges’ decision is final, binding, and non-negotiable.
Can I Enter More Than One Image in a Challenge?
When you enter, you will be given 10 credits, which you can use as you see fit. You can use one per Challenge or enter them all at once in one Challenge. It’s entirely up to you.
How Old Can the Image Be?
The image must have been taken by you in 2022 or 2023 (except for the Best of 2023 challenge, which must have been taken this year). We don’t want images taken before January 1, 2022.
What Format Should My Image Be In?
We have had to set a file size limit of 10 MB and 1920 pixels along the longest edge as we have to upload all the images and make them downloadable by the photo hosts in Botswana, where the internet access is not very robust. The file type should be jpeg.
Why Can’t I Submit Images With My Watermark?
The judges of the photo challenge are the Pangolin Photo Hosts based in Botswana, along with our guest judges, and to be fair to all entrants, they will be judged blind.
What Will Happen to My Images After the Contest Ends?
As soon as the competition ends, we will delete all the images that were submitted.
Can I Enter If I Am A Professional Photographer?
All amateur wildlife photographers can enter with the following two exceptions:
Employees of Pangolin Photo Safaris and their immediate relatives or household.
All professional wildlife photographers, photo tour leaders, full-time (or freelance) field guides, and trackers. There is a separate PRO Photo Challenge, which can be found here.
Due diligence will be performed if deemed necessary. The decision to allow or disallow the image resulting from this investigation will be for the directors of Pangolin Photo Safaris to make. This decision will be final and binding. Negotiations or discussions will not be entered into. If an image wins a challenge (or the portfolio prize) and it is later discovered that the photographer is deemed to be in contravention of the rules, then the prize will instead be awarded to the runner-up in the same challenge. The judge’s decision is final.
I Can’t Upload My Image. Can You Help?
If you are struggling to upload your image or enter the competition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will assist where we can.
What If I Cannot Travel Before the Safaris And Vouchers Expire?
All of the safaris and photo safari vouchers must be redeemed for travel before the 31st of December 2024. If you are not able to travel before that time we will exchange the safaris for vouchers to spend on Hosted Pangolin Photo Safaris in Botswana. The 5 day stay at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel awarded to the winner of a Challenge will be exchanged for a $2000 voucher for travel in 2025 and beyond. No expiry date.
The main Chobe and Delta Photo Safari must be taken in either 2024 or 2025.
Will You Be Showing All the Images In One Place?
Yes. The system we are using allows all the images to be viewed again after they have been entered. They are also searchable by the name of the photographer. In addition to that, the system also displays the settings used by the photographer to help you better understand how the image was taken.