Photo Credit: Johannes van der Merwe | Philip Van Den Berg | Roger Hogg

Eight talented photographers have been selected as the winners of the 2023 inaugural BirdLife South Africa Photography Competition, showcasing the bird life of SA.


South Africa (08 August 2023) – Bird lovers and photographers flocked to the African Bird Fair in Johannesburg (and online) recently for the announcement of the winners of the inaugural BirdLife South Africa Photography Competition, in partnership with Canon South Africa. A professional panel of judges had the tough task of whittling down the over 3000 images received to a shortlist of 200, and then finally to eight exceptional winning images over different categories.

In a serendipitous turn of events, the overall winning image by Halima Beale showcases a sunset scene featuring the familiar silhouette of a Blue Crane, South Africa’s national bird. This was especially fitting for BirdLife South Africa, the competition organisers, who are tasked with conserving South Africa’s birds and their habitats.

The competition, which raises funds for the important conservation work of BirdLife South Africa, has captured the imagination of South Africa’s birdwatching and photography community. In fact, over 400 photographers entered the competition, in support of the organisation’s work, but also in the hope of winning one of the amazing prizes totalling almost half a million Rand across 10 categories.

The main categories were Action; Portrait; Birds in the Environment; and Garden, with secondary categories awarding the best photos of threatened and endemic species, an award for the best Youth entry (for a photographer under 18), and a publicly-decided People’s Choice prize. There was significant interest in the shortlisted images made available for the People’s Choice category, with over 4000 members of the public participating in voting.

The quality and variety of images entered were simply outstanding.

Adam Buckham, who won the Youth category for this shot of a Cape Sugarbird, took home a brand new Canon EOS R7 camera with RF-S 18-45mm, RF 100-400mm and RF 600mm f11 lenses, valued at R50 000.

“We were really impressed by the efforts people went to, to get such amazing pictures of our country’s birds. Canon South Africa was very happy to be part of this competition, most notably with the big prize in the Youth Category. We really want to see the next generation of birders and bird photographers showing their stuff. Our judging team had a really hard time choosing the winners, with a few late night debates, but I’m sure you’ll agree that we have some great shots for BirdLife South Africa’s first Photography Competition.” – Roger Machin, Product Marketing Manager for Canon South Africa and Senior Judge for the competition

The overall winner, which also won the Birds in the Environment Category, was a photograph of a Cape wetland just after sunset, with a single silhouetted Blue Crane reflected in the fiery orange water. The talented photographer, Halima Beale from Somerset West, walked away with the grand prize of a three-night, all-inclusive stay for two people at the magnificent Tswalu Kalahari Reserve worth R240 000, as well as access to over R1 million worth of Canon camera gear to use on loan while at Tswalu. The prize includes dinner at the Klein JAN restaurant with Michelin star chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, a personal guide and tracker for the duration of the stay, as well as botanical and pangolin walks with the resident experts.

Beale was ecstatic upon hearing that she was the overall winner, and shared the story behind the image:

“We were heading out to Witsand for our family getaway with the kids and grandkids. The sun was already setting when we drove past this piece of water with Blue Cranes and the most magnificent sunset! But, it was already dark and we were late so we drove past. Then my husband said to me, “No, let’s go back. This is too beautiful. You have to take this picture!” So we did, and I jumped out in the dark with my camera and took a series of pictures, and here we are!”

You can see all the winning images here.

The competition’s overall winning image by Halima Beale showcases a sunset scene featuring the familiar silhouette of a Blue Crane, South Africa’s national bird. © Halima Beale

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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