For a dose of wild beauty, visit Cape Town’s Iziko South African Museum to view a wildlife and nature photo explosion. The award-winning images of Nature’s Best Photography Africa will be on show until March 2018.

This summer, visitors to the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town can feast their eyes on spectacular images. Entries were received from all over the world with one golden thread tying the Nature’s Best Photography Africa (NBPA) exhibition together: the astounding natural wonders of our favourite continent.

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko Museum-Arnold Ras-min
According to Lou Coetzer, NBPA 2017’s moderator-in-chief, the judges looked for versatility in subject matter as well as alternative techniques. Impeccable execution was essential. “The winning images inspired us with their captivating stories and comprehensive photographic excellence. The NBPA Photographer Of The Year Portfolio was a pleasure to judge, with some truly magnificent work to consider.”

Altogether 75 photographs are on show, capturing intimate interactions, hair-raising encounters and moments of sheer beauty – from big cats and African landscapes to underwater wonders and bird behaviour. Take your time to read the story behind every picture. You will be left with a great admiration of our continent’s beauty.

Here are some of Wild’s favourites from the exhibition.

Chasing tails

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Brendon Cremer-min

Brendon Cremer from Nelspruit, South Africa, received the coveted African Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. Ten of his best pictures are on show, but this one stole our hearts. Brendon writes: “What I love most about wildlife photography is the ability to capture a single moment in time that can never be repeated in exactly the same way. That moment in time may evaporate before one’s eyes, but it can be immortalised in the single frame of a camera image, to be shared and appreciated for generations to come.”

Out of my comfort zone

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Michael Viljoen-min

Michael Viljoen from Cape Town, South Africa: “After a considerable time of uncertainty, the lion warily entered the water, prompted by his instincts to follow the lionesses on heat. The water temperature was probably quite low at that time of the morning and a cold bath is seldom the preferred prelude to a vigorous bout of mating in the lion kingdom.”

Lion kings fighting

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Zhengze Xu-min

Zhengze Xu from Shanghai, China: “I took this photo in the northern regions of the Mara at a place locals call Musiara Marsh. The Marsh pride, as it is known internationally, is undoubtedly the most famous pride of lions in Africa, probably because it was the subject of the BBC’s popular documentary Big Cat Diary.”

Cut to the chase

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Paul Goldstein-min

Paul Goldstein from London, United Kingdom: “Despite the Masai Mara having the best photographic light in the world, not every afternoon is bathed in a warm, golden glow. Even though modern cameras having some extraordinary ISO capabilities, there is a limit to their abilities to function optimally when the light is really low. This is especially so when one is trying to follow a speeding cheetah from a considerable distance in very little light on a murky afternoon.”

Go sit somewhere else

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Kobus Kriek-min

Kobus Kriek from Schweizer-Reneke, South Africa: “It was one of those hot afternoons that are common to the Kgalagadi. At Bedinkt Waterhole I noticed a common black crow and a tawny eagle engaging in some animated aerial conversations. There seemed to be an element of a territorial dispute in their engagements. With crows and eagles, however, I always wonder whether the bird of lesser station is not merely harassing the more regal member of avian society.”

Engulfed

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Jaco Marx-min

Jaco Marx from Bethlehem, South Africa: “The frantic eyes of this gazelle are indelibly etched into my mind. The image reminds me of the inexorable cycle of birth, life and death in the ironic world of nature’s beauty and brutality. The processes of hunting, survival and regeneration were part of Africa long before the continent was divided into countries. This image was my first-ever of a crocodile kill and the moment will stay with me forever.”

Kudu vs. hyena

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Maureen Gibson-min

Maureen Gibson from Jeffreys Bay, South Arica: “Witnessing such sustained brutality and suffering is emotionally disturbing for even the seasoned wildlife photographer. Inevitably, one is torn between immense sympathy for the victim and a rational acceptance of the pursuer’s need to hunt for survival. Somehow the intensity of the trauma is never effectively erased when people simply shrug their shoulders and say dismissively: ‘Well, that’s nature, you know.’”

The butterfly catcher

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Skye Meaker-min

Skye Meaker from Durban, South Africa: “Baboons are extremely sociable creatures, but like all other animals, they sometimes need some time to themselves. It was on our last day in Zimbabwe that this lone baboon arrived. It seemed to be in a world all of its own and was catching butterflies and moths on the wing when I took this image.”

Companions

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Marc de Chalain-min

Marc de Chalain from Hillcrest, South Africa: “The Natal tree frog is generally between 10mm and 65mm in size. Its colouration is highly variable. Some may be bright green, with or without pronounced or muted spots. Others are cream-coloured, while some may be cream but with olive-green blotches. This amphibian is threatened by habitat loss.”

Oh, octopus!

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Rainer Schimpf-min

Rainer Schimpf from Port Elizabeth, South Africa: “Deep in the underwater recesses of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, one finds an exquisite catalogue of hidden and secret marine life. Although these beauties are often secretive and are not readily visible without some effort being made to observe them, they should be photographed. The resultant images should be disseminated to a wider audience to sensitise people to the rare, fragile and exquisitely beautiful world that exists underwater.”

Encounters with giants

Natures Best Photography Africa-Iziko-Kirsten Frost-min

Kirsten Frost from Cape Town, South Africa: “Photographing from the intimacy of an eye-level hide is as much an intense sensory experience with nature as it is an opportunity for photographic innovation. On this particular morning, an elephant herd ambled up to the hide with that inexorable, shuffling gait that simply ignores everything in the path of their enormous feet.”

For your coffee table

Buy your very own copy of Nature’s Best Photography Catalogue 2017. Order yours online and indulge in 162 pages of natural beauty.

Good to know

The Iziko South African Museum is situated at 25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens, Cape Town, and is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00 with last entry at 16:30.

Entry fees: Adults (R30), children 6-18 years old (R15), family ticket for two adults and two children (R75), students and pensioners (R15)

Visit Iziko’s website for more information or call them on +27 (0)21 481 3800. The exhibition closes on 4 March 2018.

Pictures and captions courtesy of Nature’s Best Photography Africa