But the honor of receiving the competition’s much coveted grand title award for 2022 goes to American Karine Aigner for her photo called “The big buzz.” The extraordinary scene depicts a ball of buzzing male cactus bees intent on mating with the sole female in the scrum, against a backdrop of scorching sands on a Texas ranch.
Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel, described the close-up as “rolling straight into the picture.”
“The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female,” she said in a news release Tuesday.
Aigner’s “bee-level” close-up displays the desperation of a depreciating species threatened by climate change, pesticides and habitat loss, the press release adds.
She is the fifth woman to be awarded the grand title award in the competition’s 58-year history, organizers said.
Winners were selected in 19 different categories, including three Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, the grand title of which went to 16-year-old Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn from Thailand for a surfacing Bryde’s whale portraying a contrast of dark skin, pink gum and bristly baleen on the upper jaw, called “The beauty of baleen.”