Photography Competition Logo-canon website


Thank you to all of our participating photographers for your amazing entries, additional donations, and your incredible support of our conservation efforts. At the end of the day the biggest winner, as a result of your support of this competition, is South Africa’s birdlife.

Copyright disclaimer: All images on this website are the legal property of the photographers, and the copyright for each is owned by its respective photographer. It is illegal to download and share these images without permission. Should you wish to use one or more of the images below, please email, and we will connect you with the owner(s).

(Click on an image below to open it in full)

Grand Prize

Halima Beale


Dionne Natalie Miles


Johannes van der Merwe


Philip Van Den Berg

Birds in the Environment

Halima Beale


Adam Buckham

Threatened Species

Andrew Jenkins

Endemic Species

Michael Buckham

People’s Choice

Roger Hogg

While voting for the People’s Choice Award is closed, the Top 200 shortlisted images can still be viewed on the Peoples’ Choice Award page (click on the below button).

Find out more about the Photography Competition below:

The Silo Hotel
The Oyster Box
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Stand a chance to win amazing prizes across 10 categories.

Have your photographs featured in African Birdlife magazine.

Contribute towards the conservation of our magnificent birdlife.

BirdLife South Africa is excited to announce a brand-new photography competition that launched in March 2023, in partnership with Canon South Africa.

What we love about photography is that it freezes a moment in time and opens a window into the lives and behaviours of the birds that surround us every day.

So sort through those memory cards and see if you can find that special bird image – a Knysna Turaco taking flight perhaps, a pair of raptors locked in battle, or a weaver steadfastly building a nest.

Whether you’re shooting on the latest mirrorless camera or an ‘old school’ DSLR; in a national park, local park, your urban garden or a rural area; if it’s a stunning shot of a wild bird that occurs in South Africa, we want to see it and celebrate it.

And you could be celebrating too, because if your photograph is selected as the best overall, you and a partner will be heading to Tswalu Private Wildlife Reserve for an unbelievable, all-inclusive three-night stay to the value of R237 960! Or perhaps you’ll take top honours in one of our nine other categories, each with its own amazing prizes. Plus, a selection of the winning photographs will be showcased in our world-class magazine, African Birdlife.

Don’t miss out on the 2023 BirdLife South Africa Photography Competition, in partnership with Canon South Africa.

For enquiries regarding the competition, please email

Are you a paid-up member of BirdLife South Africa?

If so, you’ll receive a HUGE discount on your entries (R100/entry instead of R300/entry), so make sure you get in touch with BirdLife South Africa’s Membership Programme Manager, Shireen Gould, now to either sign up as a new member, renew your membership, or check that your membership is paid-up for the duration of the competition.

Find out more about BirdLife South Africa Membership here.

Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about prizes, categories, terms and conditions, and how to enter the competition.

All proceeds go towards BirdLife South Africa's important bird conservation work.

Thanks to our prize sponsors:

Prizes & Categories


  • GRAND PRIZE: An all-inclusive, 3-night stay for 2 people sharing at Tswalu Private Wildlife Reserve, to the value of R237 960! This includes flights on an existing Tswalu scheduled charter service; all meals, snacks and beverages (including a full selection from an award-winning wine list); a private vehicle, guide and tracker; a dinner at Klein JAN restaurant; a botanical bush walk with Dylan Smith and a pangolin discussion with Dr Wendy Painano (depending on their availability); and more!
  • PLUS: Canon South Africa will reward our Grand Prize winner with the use of their latest top-of-the-range Canon camera equipment, valued at over R1.5 million, for the duration of their stay at Tswalu. This will be customised to their specific requirements.


  • ACTION: A pelagic birding weekend, sponsored by Cape Town Pelagics, Birding Africa and The Silo Hotel, consisting of a world-famous Cape Town pelagic day-trip for two people (valued at R6 790), and a two-night stay for two people sharing at The Silo Hotel, on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • PORTRAIT: A two-night stay for two people sharing at the luxurious Tintswalo at Boulders in Simon’s Town, Cape Town, valued at R11 200; plus a pair of Canon 12 X 32 IS binoculars, valued at R 25 000.
  • BIRDS IN THE ENVIRONMENT: A two-night stay for two people sharing in a sea-facing room at The Oyster Box, including all meals and a bottle of wine with each meal; plus a pair of Canon 12 X 32 IS binoculars, valued at R 25 000.
  • GARDEN: A two-night stay for two people at RETURNAfrica’s Pafuri Tented Camp, including three meals a day and two daily game drives, to the value of R43 000; plus a hamper from Gardena to the value of R10 000; plus a birding hamper from Elaine’s Birding and Wildlife Products valued at R2 500.


  • YOUTH: A Canon EOS R7 camera with RF-S 18-45mm, RF 100-400mm and RF 600mm f11 lenses, valued at R50 000.
  • PEOPLE’S CHOICE: A Canon PowerShot Zoom camera kit, valued at R4 500; plus a Struik Nature hamper worth R5 000.
  • VOTER PRIZE: A Canon PowerShot Zoom camera kit, valued at R4 500; plus a Struik Nature hamper worth R5 000.
  • THREATENED SPECIES: A BirdLife South Africa fleece and peak cap, a Cape Parrot (Bird of the Year 2023) T-shirt and pin badge; plus a BirdLife South Africa membership, all worth R2 000.
  • ENDEMIC SPECIES: A BirdLife South Africa fleece and peak cap, a Cape Parrot (Bird of the Year 2023) T-shirt and pin badge; plus a BirdLife South Africa membership, all worth R2 000.

Category Descriptions


The photograph that, according to the judges’ final decision and discretion, is the overall winner of the entire competition, based on a number of factors and photographic principles, including but not limited to: composition, focus, rule of thirds, emotive value, uniqueness of shot, judges’ experience, etc.


A photograph that showcases birds (or a bird) in action, and/or highlights interesting or unbelievable bird behaviour.


A photograph that frames and depicts a bird (or birds) in a beautiful, engaging, and/or unique way, and gives the viewer a brief introduction to the bird species showcased.


A photograph that highlights a bird (or birds) in relation to the environment around it, be it the weather, landscapes or habitats they exist in, interactions with other creatures or natural elements, etc.


A photograph which has been taken in an urban garden setting that uncovers the everyday beauty of some of our more common (or unique) garden visitors.


A photograph taken by a competition entrant who is under the age of 18 on the day of their entry.


A photograph that has been shortlisted by the competition judges, displayed on the BirdLife South Africa website, and has received the most votes from the public.


While this is not a photography category, one lucky person who votes for their favourite photo in the People’s Choice category, will stand a chance to win a Canon PowerShot camera, valued at R4 500, plus a Struik Nature book voucher, valued at R5 000.


A photograph of a bird species that is marked as “Critically Endangered (CR)”, “Endangered (EN)”, or “Vulnerable (VU)” in the “BirdLife South Africa Checklist of Birds in South Africa 2023”. Only the Regional conservation status applies, not the Global conservation status. On the Checklist, this is the first listed designation. Note that Vagrant and Introduced species are excluded from this sub-category.

Please refer to the updated checklists in English, Afrikaans, and isiZulu, here.


A photograph of a bird species that is marked as “endemic (E)”, “endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and eSwatini (SLS)”, or “near endemic (i.e. ~70% or more of population in RSA) (NE)” in the “BirdLife South Africa Checklist of Birds in South Africa 2023”.

Please refer to the updated checklists in English, Afrikaans, and isiZulu, here.

Competition Rules

Below are some of the main Competition Rules to take note of, but please ensure you read and understand the full Terms & Conditions at the button below.

  1. The competition opened for entries at 06h00 on 1 March 2023, and closes for entries at 23h59 on 31 May 2023.
  2. A maximum of 4 images may be uploaded per entry.
  3. Participants may enter more than once, but will have to pay per entry.
  4. Entry fees are R100 (for BirdLife South Africa members) or R300 (for non-BirdLife South Africa members) per entry. Proceeds go towards our important bird conservation work.
  5. The discounted entry fee is only for fully paid-up members (not African Birdlife subscribers, bird club members, or members of the BirdLife South Africa Facebook group). Members must be paid up to the end of the competition period.
  6. The competition is only open to people who are resident in South Africa, and prize winners may be asked to provide necessary supporting documentation.
  7. The competition is not open to BirdLife South Africa employees, BirdLife South Africa Board members, Trustees of the BirdLife National Trust, members of official BirdLife South Africa committees, employees of the competition’s sponsors, competition judges, or the immediate families of any of the aforementioned parties.
  8. Entries should be photographs of wild birds that occur in South Africa only. Please refer to the BirdLife South Africa Checklist of Birds in South Africa 2023.
  9. Entrants should follow BirdLife South Africa’s Birding Code of Ethics, including no flushing of birds, and avoiding playback of calls to attract birds.
  10. The entry should not have been an overall or category winner or runner up in a previous competition.
  11. Photographers’ names and/or watermarks must be removed from all images before they are uploaded to the competition’s entry form, to allow for anonymity.
  12. Edits, such as cropping, lighting, etc., should be kept to a minimum, and major manipulation using design software is discouraged.
  13. The competition’s judges’ decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into. Judges are not to be contacted about the progress or judging of the competition during the competition period.



Meet the judges


Prelena Owen

Prelena is a South African- born Indian, wildlife photographer whose fascination with Nature started at a very young age. It was only in her late 20’s that she discovered the magic of the wild when she had her first encounter with an elephant. Since then she has travelled widely to follow her passion while holding down a corporate job.

Her interest in photography was sparked a few years ago and her work has been recognized on global platforms. She has been placed and won several competitions both locally and internationally.

Website is


Richard Flack

Richard is a husband, dad and professional wildlife photographer from the Natal Midlands in South Africa, where he currently teaches photography online and in person. His favourite genre of bird photography is “habitat shots” or “birds in their environment” images where he looks to combine the beauty of Africa’s landscapes and birds in an emotive and story-telling way. Richard’s work has been recognized in the world’s leading photography competitions including Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Bird Photographer of the Year and Nature’s Best Africa.




Lizet Grobbelaar

Lizet Grobbelaar is a well-known birder and bird photographer among the South African birding community. She has seen over 880 bird species in Southern Africa of which she has managed to photograph over 780. Lizet decided to take up bird photography in the late 90s, a hobby she wanted to share with her husband Johann Grobbelaar. Being mentored primarily by Johann and well-known bird photographers, Warwick Tarboton and Hugh Chittenden she got experienced in finding nesting birds and rare birds to photograph. The Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe is her favourite birding destination but photographing River Warbler for the first time was a memorable moment! Lizet has published numerous bird photos in field guides, birding Apps, and magazines.
She has been using Canon gear all her life and believes the best lens for bird photography is the longest focal length you can carry!

Facebook page – Lizet Grobbelaar.

Roger Machin

Roger Machin is the product marketing manager at Canon South Africa and has worked in the photographic industry for almost 30 years. He has a wealth of knowledge on Canon photo and video products. He has been a guest judge in a large variety of local and international competitions spanning many genres of photography. He has worked with many local and international photographers and has a very good knowledge of what constitutes an award-winning picture. He is also a very keen birder, having rekindled the hobby in the last five years after a 30 years lapse. He is currently over 520 species seen in Southern Africa and has photographed over 450 of them. This makes him acutely aware of the challenges faced by bird photographers.

Sandiswa Kula

Sandiswa Kula is a village girl who loves birds, photography, and her Granny’s chickens of course. She shares her love for nature with everyone willing to listen, sometimes to the slight neglect of her duties at home. So much so that it has become an ongoing joke with her family. She hopes to share her love, passion, and vision with people outside the already-established birding community. She strives to spread the birding bug to anyone and everyone. She hopes to inspire many Sandiswas in many small villages, who can be an oddity that becomes the norm.

Sandiswa Kula Photography

Entry Form

Please note, the BirdLife South Africa Photography Competition is now closed for entries.

For any queries regarding the competition, please email