50 photos that show the beauty of animals around the world

'Highland cow' by @above_and_beyond_visuals (UK)
More than 13,800 images were submitted from photographers all around the world. Agora
  • Agora, a free photography app, recently held its #Animals2020 contest.

  • Photographers were encouraged to share shots of the "wide and precious variety of animal life surrounding us," according to a press release sent to Insider.

  • More than 13,800 images were submitted from photographers all around the world, including Australia, Indonesia, and Iceland.

  • A photographer named Martin won this year's contest — and took home the $1,000 prize — with a colorful photo of an iguana in Indonesia.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Agora, a free photography app, aimed to show that "all living beings are on Earth for a reason" with its latest contest.

The company began its #Animals2020 competition in late August, encouraging photographers to share pictures that show the "wide and precious variety of animal life surrounding us," according to a press release sent to Insider.

"To preserve their existence, we must protect biodiversity," Agora said of wildlife in the press release. "It is our duty to unite and defend animal rights to keep celebrating the wonder of our natural world."

One picture that does just that is "Iguana" by a photographer named Martin. He won this year's contest, and took home $1,000 as a result. Here's his winning image, and 49 other finalists.

Winner: "Iguana" by Martin

'Iguana' by @jjnmatt (Indonesia)

Martin, who took this winning shot, told Agora that he believes iguanas convey "the beauty and uniqueness of nature." He photographed the vibrant lizard sitting among flowers in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"A Tower of Giraffe" by Kent Sampson

'A Tower of Giraffe' by @_kennyc_ (UK)

Though it can be "challenging" to photograph wildlife, as Sampson told Agora, he's "grateful" that a group of giraffes at the Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservation in Zimbabwe were willing to pause for a photo.

"The unpredictability of animals makes it both incredibly frustrating, and hugely rewarding," the photographer said. "Often you'll witness something spectacular, and by the time you've brought your camera to your eye, it's over."

"All the shades of blue" by Maky and Matt

'All the shades of blue' by @makyandmatt (Czech Republic)

Photographers Maky and Matt told Agora that they aimed to show an "appreciation and love for the ocean, the beauty of the underwater world, and the importance of protecting our oceans" in their nominated image, taken in Gili Meno, Indonesia.

"Our feet were full of blisters and bleeding, and we were fighting a strong current, but we just couldn't resist the beauty of the ocean," they said. "The water was so clear, there were so many turtles, the lighting was perfect, and no one was around. Definitely a dive to remember!"

"An eagle hunting" by Joe Shelly

'An eagle hunting' by @joeshellyy (UK)

Shelly's photo was taken in South Africa's Kruger National Park. It shows a bird flying to a lone tree while the sun hangs low in the sky.

"Anemone fish" by Alex de Martin

'Anemone fish' by @alexdemartin (Spain)

This nominated image shows three clownfish swimming through a sea anemone on Malaysia's Sipadan Island.

"Arctic fox" by Eric Panades

'Arctic fox' by @photoepb (Spain)

"I went looking for this little one for days when suddenly through the glass of the car, I saw it perched on a slope," Panades said of the fox in his photograph, taken in Iceland. "I ran and lay a meter from it while I was eating, and that's how I managed to catch this magnificent moment."

"Baby monkey" by Prabu Dennaga

'Baby monkey' by @prabuds (Indonesia)

Dennaga captured this close-up photo of a baby monkey in Kedoya Utara, Indonesia.

"Bear crossing" by Blake Hobson

'Bear crossing' by @blakehobson (Canada)

In Division No. 15, a census division in Alberta, Canada, Hobson photographed a bear as it crossed an empty road alongside a forest. Speaking to Agora, he said photos don't "get much more Canadian than this!"

"Caballos" by Maria Fernandez Cabaleiro

'Caballos' by @mariafcabaleiro (Spain)

Cabaleiro told Agora that she and her family came across the horses seen in her photo while on a road trip along the coast of Asturias, Spain. She aimed to "transmit the feeling of protection and love" with the image.

"Calf and mother" by Nate Pham

'Calf and mother' by @nateqpham (Vietnam)

Pham was at a beach in Quảng Bình, Vietnam, just before sunset when he stumbled upon a herd of cows. Though he was able to capture some with his camera, he ended up getting chased by others, as he told the photography app.

"Chimp" by Mohamed Tazi

'Chimp' by @mohamedtazi (Morroco)

"This chimp was enjoying breakfast when suddenly he stopped eating and looked at me like a model who was posing for a shooting session," Tazi told Agora about the chimpanzee he photographed at Sevilla Zoo in Spain.

"Close encounter" by Antoine

'Close encounter' by @onkwelphoto (France)

The photographer told Agora that the ibex — a type of mountain goat — seen in his photo is the first one he ever spotted in the wild. He captured the shot in Chamonix, France.

"After hiking for an hour and a half, I began to doubt I would see any," he said. "Literally one minute later, at the bend of a large rock, he was there, grazing his grass quietly right next to me."

"Curious seal" by Pete Xu

'Curious seal' by @adventureahead (USA)

In Vancouver, Canada, Xu photographed this seal as it lounged on a rock, soaked in the sunshine, and watched people on the nearby beach.

"Devotion" by Saiful Islam

'Devotion' by @saiful0007 (Bangladesh)

Islam told the photography app that he had been walking with his friend near an Armenian Church in  Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, when he noticed a dog lying across a grave.

"Immediately I went home to look for my camera and, with the permission of the church officials, took the picture," he said.

"Encounter at our campsite" by Jewi Rücker

'Encounter at our campsite' by @hi.jewi (Germany)

During an expedition in Kamchatka Kri, Russia, Rücker and her group spent a few days visiting the Tolbachik volcano. The fox seen in her photo appeared before them during dinner.

"It was so curious, so peaceful, and friendly," she told Agora. "It showed up, watched us, and went away to play in the ashes. It was such a surprising, unexpected, and exciting moment that really hit my heart."

"Family" by Manny Librodo

'Family' by @mannylibrodo (Philippines)

Librodo captured this family of elephants in the Surin province of Thailand.

"I wanted to show how the elephants have become symbols of beauty, grace, and elegance, despite their gigantic size," he told the photography app.

"Farmers" by Jorge Bacelar

'Farmers' by @jorgebacelar (Portugal)

Bacelar's nominated image shows a farmer named Silvina posing with a black turkey in Murtosa, Portugal. As the photographer told Agora, the species of bird was first brought to the country approximately 500 years ago and has remained in the area ever since.

"Fierce" by @pitokung

'Fierce' by @pitokung (Indonesia)

As the photographer told Agora, his nominated shot shows a Sumatran tiger "wandering in the morning sunlight" in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"Focused" by Leo Wies

'Focused' by @leo.wies (Germany)

It's "impossible to discover a lynx in the wild" throughout Germany, according to Weis, so he visited a local wildlife park on a snowy day to photograph the animal.

"I found a place to sit down in the empty park, and waited with my thick down jacket on, sitting and lying on the ground," he told Agora. "It took me almost two hours to spark the lynx's attention, and he slowly came towards my direction."

"The moment I took the photo, I had the feeling of having direct eye contact with the lynx," Weis continued. "That feeling really sent shivers down my spine. With this photo, I wanted to evoke the same feeling and emotion I had."

"Freshwater" by Wibowo Rahardjo

'Freshwater' by @cymot (Indonesia)

Rahardjo's unique image shows an owl being showered by a rainstorm at the Jurug Solo Zoo in Surakarta, Indonesia.

"Friends" by Barbara Prina

'Friends' by @superiaia (Italy)

Prina captured a small bird sitting atop a zebra while visiting the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. Speaking to the photography app, Prina said she and her group were originally hoping to photograph lions, and had spent "several hours" in the area while waiting to do so.

"There were zebras and gazelles near the pan, but no trace of lions," she said. "At a certain time a small bird caught my attention — it was on the back of the zebra, and he was chirping loudly. I took that picture. Lions never came."

"Sometimes we are so focused on seeking the beauty of big things that we lose sight of the wonder that hides in small things," Prina said.

"Give it to me" by Ashish Kumawat

'Give it to me' by @beyond_imagina (India)

In Jaipur, India, Kumawat photographed a rhesus-macaque monkey as it reached for a piece of fruit he had been holding.

"Highland cow" by Cameron Aird

'Highland cow' by @above_and_beyond_visuals (UK)

Highland cattle are typically brown or orange, so Aird was surprised when he spotted a white one among a group of the animals in the United Kingdom.

"It was amazing to witness the cow placed in the center, looking so obedient and stern with the others behind," he told the photography app. "I think the moral of this shot is: no matter how unusual you or something may look, you are bound to stand out from the rest of the crowd."

"Honor fight" by Jordi Sark

'Honor fight' by @jordisark (Spain)

Sark's nominated photograph — taken in Indonesia — shows two animals standing in shallow water with their antlers interlocked while the sun glows low in the sky behind them.

"Horses" by Bahram Bayat

'Horses' by @bahrambayat (Iran)

Bayat's nominated shot was taken in Iran. It shows 10 horses of varying colors and patterns as they prance through a grass field.

"Humpback whale breaching" by Rene Liniger

'Humpback whale breaching' by @reneliniger (Australia)

Liniger captured this whale soaring above water while whale-watching in Mooloolaba, Australia.

"It's amazing watching these gentle giants going about their own business," he told Agora. "And quite often, they will also take a keen interest in finding out more about us when they come really close up to check us out. Never fails to amaze me!"

"Icelandic" by Subhash Panikar

'Icelandic' by @samuelemiccoli (Italy)

Panikar had been walking around the Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland when he spotted this brown horse and a couple of others.

"As soon as they came closer, they stopped to let us take a shot, and then disappeared," he told Agora about the horses. "The beauty of the country is not only fire and ice, but also the animals who live there."

"Into the darkness" by Alan Gallo

'Into the darkness' by @alan_gallo (Italy)

Gallo's black-and-white photograph, taken at the Toblacher See lake in Italy, shows a swan taking flight from water. He told the photography app that he aimed to represent "light breaking through the darkness" with his image.

"Lioness Pride" by Ilaria Ronchi

'Lioness Pride' by @freeilli (Italy)

Ronchi told Agora that she came across this lion pride, which was actually made up of approximately 30 animals, while at Etosha National Park in Namibia.

"It was truly a movie scene, and my heart especially melted when I saw the lionesses walking towards us, aligning in the perfect composition," she said.

"Little Tiger" by Huang Di

'Little Tiger' by @johnnydee (China)

The photographer captured this fluffy cat as it strolled down a leaf-covered street in Chongqing, China. He told Agora that the animal looked "so majestic" and like a "little tiger" as it walked.

"Madoda King" by Mélanie

'Madoda King' by @frenchcliche (South Africa)

Mélanie captured this large lion mid-yawn at the Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa.

"Misty heather field in full bloom" by Glenn Blanker

'Misty heather field in full bloom' by @glennanthonie (Netherlands)

Blanker's photograph, which shows a highland cattle standing in a lilac field, was taken in Laren, Netherlands.

"Moment" by Alex Cao

'Moment' by @alexcao (Vietnam)

Cao's photograph of a blue bird sitting atop a branch was taken in Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam.

He told Agora that it combines two of his biggest wishes: to share photos of Quảng Ngãi with the world, and to preserve wildlife that's "being hunted and consumed terribly" across the globe.

"Mosca descansando en un cactus" by Eva Ropero Villalon

'Mosca descansando en un cactus' by @lafotodeeva (Spain)

"I went out with my 2-and-a-half-year-old son to escape this whole pandemic situation for a brief moment," the photographer told Agora about her nominated image, taken at the Parque de La Paloma in Benalmádena, Spain.

"Suddenly, I saw that my son was looking at something with insistence," she continued. "He likes insects a lot, so I got closer and saw this blowfly resting on a small cactus flower. I was carried away by the emotion of my son. In this photo, I realized that the small details are what really matter."

"Mother and her young" by Dan Rose

'Mother and her young' by @danrose (UK)

Rose aimed to capture "the bond and close connection" between the fawn and mother deer seen in his photograph. He took the shot at Berkeley Deer Park in England.

"Mother Bekantan" by Irawan Subingar

'Mother Bekantan' by @irawansubingar (Indonesia)

Subingar's nominated image, captured in the Cisarua region of West Java, Indonesia, shows a female proboscis monkey embracing her baby.

"Motherlove" by Patricia Ortega Olmos

'Motherlove' by @olmospatricia (Spain)

Olmos took this photo of a koala walking with its baby on its back across a road in Australia.

"Newborn labradoodle puppy" by Silvija Collins

'Newborn labradoodle puppy' by @Silvija_Collins (Ireland)

Collins told Agora that her family's Australian labradoodle gave birth to a litter of puppies, and her two young children were excited to care for them — though the dogs were too small for them to handle at the time.

"My husband placed one sleeping puppy in his palms and brought it closer for the girls the see," Collins said. "They sang lullabies and he just held the puppy for them. It looked so peaceful and content."

"These puppies grew up in our kitchen with the constant care and attention of our children and ourselves before they went to loving homes," she continued. "A lot of my photos focus on the bond between small children and their pets, the love, care, and affection that goes both ways."

"Orangutan" by Ading Kuswara

'Orangutan' by @adingkuswara (Indonesia)

Kuswara captured this close-up shot of an orangutan in the Tanjung district of Indonesia's Lombok island.

"Privilege witness" by Josu Ozkaritz Astigarraga

'Privilege witness' by @josuozkaritz (Spain)

Astigarraga found this llama lounging as he walked around Machu Picchu in Peru.

"In such a crowded tourist destination, I was lucky to find this cute animal on a quiet, empty spot with no one interrupting this powerful moment," he told Agora.

He added: "Sometimes llamas tend to have aggressive behavior when bothered. However, this friend seemed to be waiting for me to immortalize this moment. She posed like a pro model, with no complaints whatsoever before, during, or after the shooting."

"Puffin Close Up" by Heather Bulley

'Puffin Close Up' by @hb_photography (UK)

Bulley got close to the puffin in her photograph while visiting Skomer Island in Wales.

"Reach the winter" by Thao Dang

'Reach the winter' by @dangthao (Japan)

Dang told the photography app that she took this shot in Mongolia towards the end of fall.

"You can tell how pleased the reindeer was with the snow falling again," she said.

"Shadow game" by Yura Borschev

'Shadow game' by @borsch (Russia)

In Finland, Borschev took this aerial shot of a deer crossing a road as it "ignored" dozens of cars whizzing by, as he told Agora.

"Swimming" by Nicolas Pappalardo

'Swimming' by @nikopictures (France)

Pappalardo told Agora that he had been walking on a bridge in Santa Cruz, California, when he spotted this group of seals.

"The barn owl has landed" by Phil Robson

'The barn owl has landed' by @philrobson (UK)

Robson captured this barn owl mid-landing in Northumberland, United Kingdom. He told the photography app that he aimed to convey "the beauty and grace of flight."

"What are you looking at?" by Kyunghwa Lee

'What are you looking at?' by @kyunghwalee (South Korea)

Lee's colorful image shows a bee pollinating a yellow flower in South Korea.

"Winter swim" by Jon Cleave

'Winter swim' by @joncleave (UK)

"I spotted this majestic humpback whale breaching in a northern fjord of Iceland in the depths of winter," Cleave told the photography app.

"With mom" by Sofyan Efendi

'With mom' by @sofyanefendi (Indonesia)

Efendi photographed these elephants while at Indonesia's Waykambas National Park in the morning. At the time, "dozens of elephants were being fed by the nursing staff," as he told Agora.

"Wolves" by Subhash Panikar

'Wolves' by @spanikar (Canada)

Panikar's winter image, taken in Montreal, Canada, shows two wolves standing on a patch of snow in a forest.

"Young panda" by Agnieszka Wieczorek

'Young panda' by @polatina (Poland)

"It was a rainy day without many pandas walking around," Wieczorek told Agora about the day she captured her nominated shot at the Chengdu Panda Base in Chengdu, China.

"Suddenly, the young panda went out from the forest," she said. "This was the best moment I remember and I was glad I could have captured it in my camera."

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