Last month, a new report from the World Wildlife Fund revealed that almost 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians had experienced an average decline of 68% since 1970. In Latin America and the Caribbean, that number rose to 94%. Only 25% of our planet’s ice-free land is still considered wilderness; the rest has been significantly altered by humankind.
Shortly after these mind-boggling numbers were released, the finalists for the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards were announced. Since 2016, these awards have highlighted the beauty, personality, and humor of the nature world, while also supporting the incredible work of the animal welfare and wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. This year’s finalists made us laugh, but they also gave us the faces behind all the statistics, revealing what’s at stake if we continue to exploit the planet and its inhabitants.
2020 attracted more entries than ever in the history of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, proving that despite travel limitations, our connection to the natural world remains at the forefront of our minds. That connection reveals itself in the damage we do the environment–and the devastating consequences of those actions on human health–but it also reveals itself in our ability to empathize with species of all kinds, as demonstrated by this year’s finalists.
From a waving bear to a photobombing giraffe, these images remind us of the ties that bind us all, across species, inspiring hope for a better world. The winners of the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards will be announced on October 27th and will likely be accompanied by a virtual celebration. “We are making plans for a fantasmical (it’s a word, definitely) online awards night,” the team says.