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Mangrove forests are among the most undervalued and fragile ecosystems on the planet. But these wetlands are of huge environmental importance; they help to tackle climate change by absorbing far greater levels of carbon dioxide than inland forest, provide habitat for many species of wildlife and protect the world’s tropical coasts and people that live along them.

The Mangrove Photography Awards 2021, run by Mangrove Action Project, has given us a fascinating insight into the world of mangroves from all corners of the earth. From a forest goddess protecting honey gatherers to a tiger leaping through trees and mangroves choking on plastic pollution, these are just some of the intriguing and diverse images from this year’s competition.

Musfiqur Rahman has been voted overall winner of the competition with his image; A Brave Livelihood, showing a traditional wild honey gatherer subduing giant honeybees with smoke. The ancient tradition and unique relationship between people and the mangroves takes place in the Sundarbans, in Bangladesh and India.

“Indigenous Mowal honey gatherers, protected by Bonbibi, the forest goddess, must evade the dangers (Bengal tigers and saltwater crocodiles) lurking in the mangroves,” says Rahman. His winning image was selected from nearly 1,500 entries from 65 countries by this year’s judges, Christian Ziegler, Daisy Gilardini, Mac Stone, Robert Irwin, Charlie Hamilton James and Emily Garthwaite.

“Today, less than half the world’s original mangrove forest cover remains,” says competition judge Robert Irwin.

“It has never been more important to promote the conservation of these fragile ecosystems through inspiring photography.”

The photos are a compelling reminder of the importance of mangroves for the variety of life on our planet as amateur and professional photographers captured unique relationships and moments in these ecosystems from both above, and below, the water line.


Mangroves & Wildlife winner: Adaptation of the Bengal Tiger, by Arijit Das, India

A Bengal tiger leaps across a creek in the Sundarbans National Park, India. Although these big cats have adapted to life in the mangroves, their numbers continue to fall with less than 100 estimated individuals in the Indian Sundarbans.


Mangroves & People winner: Mangrove Propagators, by Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

The sun sets on a stretch of coastline after a mangrove beach clean and restoration took place within the local community. Plastic pollution is increasingly becoming a problem in this part of the world as mangroves slowly suffocate in plastic waste.


Mangroves & Underwater winner: Shelter, by Shane Gross, United States

A green sea turtle takes shelter in the mangroves of the Bahamas. Green turtles are born on beaches, grow up in the open ocean, eat seagrass and seek protection within mangroves and coral reefs.


Mangroves & Landscape winner: Autumn Tree, by Zohaib Anjum, United Arab Emirates

Most of the mangroves found along UAE’s coastline, are found in Abu Dhabi, acting as a “green lung” for the city.


Mangroves & Threats runner up: Broken Mangrove, by Dhany Darmansyah Saragih, Indonesia

Local people cut down mangrove trees for fuel-wood and building materials for boats and houses. Over the past three decades, Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangroves.


Mangroves & Youth winner: Coastal Phantom, by Caleb Hoover, United States

A Clapper Rail darts for cover in a patch of coastal Red Mangroves. The elusive waterbird has not been sighted in the area in over 6 years but this one has found safety and solitude in a small stretch of mangroves on the coast of Florida.

By harnessing the creativity, determination and commitment of our passionate photographers and conservationists, Mangrove Action Project wants to show the diverse beauty of mangroves and to inspire action to protect these unique ecosystems.

Click here to view more photos from this year’s competition.

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