2015 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Guaranteed to Make You Smile

By NoelGRSr


The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards were devised in 2015 in part to celebrate the lighter side of the animal kingdom, and it’s fair to say that it succeeded. Indeed, just one look at this shot of a hamster in a hurry by Austrian wildlife photographer Julian Rad is pretty much guaranteed to make you smile. And while the snap, entitled “Rush Hour,” took the competition’s top prize, the following 19 entries were also worthy contenders.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards



Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


The actual idea for the awards, though, came from Paul Joynson-Hicks, who has been a Tanzania-based wildlife photographer for the past two decades. He hit upon the notion after he realized that his most popular nature photos were often the funniest ones.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


So Joyson-Hicks set up the competition and came up with the parameters for entrants. He said, “The competition brief was ‘seeing the funny side of the majestic creatures we love to photograph and protect."


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


The majority of the resulting pictures, interestingly, were of mammals. It’s perhaps our love of attributing human behaviors to animals, then, that led to the contest capturing the imaginations of photographers around the world.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


And the entries did indeed flood in. Certainly, Joynson-Hicks said that the sheer volume of eligible pictures far exceeded his expectations for the competition’s first year. In total, more than 1,500 entries were received from 52 different nations.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


The competition ran through much of 2015 and came to a close on October 1. The judges then took four or five weeks to select their winners, with the final ceremony taking place on November 11, 2015.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


Of course, Joyson-Hicks was part of the judging panel. But other members of the panel also included TV presenter and conservationist Kate Humble, comedian Hugh Dennis and co-creator of the Born Free Foundation Will Travers.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


The judging criteria are not entirely clear, but entrants were given a boost for showing off the photographer’s technical abilities as well as for giving it an amusing title. And, naturally, it had to be funny.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


Though, it should be said, one of the judges – Travers – was particularly concerned with ensuring that none of the images were laughing at the animals. Indeed, he wanted to ensure that the animals still had their “dignity” in tact.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


Comedian Hugh Dennis, however, seemed to be focused purely on the funny. “It was a pleasure to judge the inaugural Comedy Wildlife awards. The number and quality of the entries was fantastic,” he told the Mirror.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


He continued, “The finalists should be very proud of themselves, as should the animals they photographed, simply for looking so funny. Sadly there is no way of telling them.”


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


But, even though the competition is intended to raise a laugh, it also carries a far more thought-provoking message. Indeed, Joynson-Hicks hopes it will highlight the importance of animal conservation.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


As a resident of Tanzania, U.K.-born Joynson-Hicks sees first-hand the suffering of wild animals at the hands of poachers. He knows that life for many animals in the wild isn’t all nose-picking and funny poses.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


Joynson-Hicks said, “The news is so awful, especially in Tanzania, where the poaching situation is just desperate.” In fact, the number of elephants in Tanzania fell by a staggering 65,721 in the five years between 2009 and 2014.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


But Joyson-Hicks doesn’t want to use such figures to get people involved in conservation. “Hopefully this competition will encourage people towards conservation rather than guilt-inducing them towards conservation,” he said.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


In fact, the Born Free Foundation – mentioned earlier – was the main partner of the competition. Born Free aims to protect wild species in their natural habitats and works to end extinction and cruelty to animals.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


And another proviso for entrants in this competition was that entries needed to focus on wild, rather than domesticated or captive, animals. This meant that the focus could be on conservationism.


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


This is clearly a subject that is close to Joynson-Hicks’ heart. He said, “I am a wildlife photographer myself and am deeply passionate about taking pictures of all sorts of wild creatures.”


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


And he was sure to underline the overall message of the competition. He said, “It’s important to make sure that when we are taking pictures we are also taking care of the creatures we are photographing.”


Image: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


Joynson-Hicks added, “I think people have really enjoyed this competition because it is something a little bit different.” And we’re hoping for more next year.


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