Born from a passion for wildlife, and decades of experience living and working in East Africa, The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards began its life modestly in 2015 as a photographic competition.
Since then, steered by its founders, Paul Joynson-Hicks MBE and Tom Sullam, it has grown into a globally renowned competition seen by millions of people every year, and always with wildlife conservation at its heart.
The free competition, open to wildlife photography experts and novices, celebrates the hilarity of our natural world and highlights what we need to do to protect it. From a surprised otter to a swearing turtle, Comedy Wildlife’s photographs transcend cultures and ages to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
While living in East Africa and working as a wildlife photographer, founder Paul was looking through his photographs when he came across several that made him laugh out loud: an eagle looking at him through its back legs and a warthog’s bottom. He realised that the humour of these photographs was both entertaining and a means to engage people with the threats facing these same animals.
A funny animal photo is incredibly effective because there are no barriers to understanding or taboos that must be negotiated. It taps into the impulse for anthropomorphism which is well-documented as one of the most powerful triggers for human empathy. To really understand animals and the issues that affect them, you need to empathise with them as fellow inhabitants of the same planet.
And so, in 2015, The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was born from Paul’s small office in Usa River on the slopes of Mt Meru in northern Tanzania. Soon after, Co-Founder and photographer Tom Sullam was bought on board and then Michelle Wood, a couple of years later.
Since then, steered by its founders, the competition has grown and grown into a global competition that’s able to make a meaningful contribution to the amazing world of wildlife.
The deluge of images of animals and habitats in peril can be hard to digest. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’content accesses our empathy by showing how alike we really are. You don’t need to cover your eyes or look away. They want the viewers to share their enjoyment of nature and take the time to recognise its value.
“Through the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, we aim to widen understanding and engagement with global conservation – for the preservation of biodiversity and the health and enrichment of everyone on Earth.”Paul Joynson-Hicks. MBE – Founder CWPA
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards has become a fixture on many photographers’ competition calendars. Every year, they accept thousands of images from around the world for each category and receive global media coverage.
Novice and expert photographers can enter up to 10 images: 4 portfolio entries and an additional 6 entries for the different categories every year. Entry is free.
Now, the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Finalists have just been announced and there are some beauties! There’s a giggling seal, a giraffe riding monkey, a laughing snake and quite a lot of impressive dance moves from various entries. Even the humble but hilarious pigeon is honoured this year. Isn’t WILDLIFE amazing?!
This year, for the first time ever, the 2021 Finalists will be exhibited at The Photography Show NEC, Birmingham, UK. Those in the UK can go view them and hear competition co-founder Tom Sullam give a talk on how it all started
On 22 October the 2021 Winners will be announced, so stay tuned on Happy Ali…
Here Are Some of the Best of the 2021 Finalists
“Monday Morning Mood” by Andrew Mayes Randburg, South Africa.
Animal: Pied Starling
Location of shot: Rietvlei Nature Reserve
“Don’t Worry. Be Happy” by Axel Bocker, Germany.
Location of shot: Hemer, Germany
“Chinese Whispers” by Jan Piecha, Kassel, Germany.
Location of shot: Kassel, Germany
“Sweet lips are for kissing!” by Philipp Stahr, Mannheim, Germany.
Location of shot: Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean
“How do you get that damn window open?” by
Nicolas de Vaulx, Draguignan, France.
Location of shot: France
“Time for school” by Chee Kee Teo, Singapore.
Animal: Smooth-coated otter
Location of shot: Singapore
“Bald Eagle Gets a Surprise” by Arthur Trevino, USA
Animal: Bald Eagle and prairie dog
Location of shot: Hygiene, CO
“Smoked deer for dinner” by Siddhant Agrawal, India
Location of shot: Jim Corbett National Park, India
Main image: Mr Giggles, a grey seal by Martina Novotna, taken in Ravenscar, UK