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Fifth grader Vidyun R Hebbar wins Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize

Kamahl Cogdon and Malcolm Holland, October 21, 2021 7:00PM Kids News

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Vidyun R Hebbar, 10, took this photograph of a tent spider weaving its web as a tuktuk passed by in India. Vidyun was named the Natural History Museum’s Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for 2021. media_cameraVidyun R Hebbar, 10, took this photograph of a tent spider weaving its web as a tuktuk passed by in India. Vidyun was named the Natural History Museum’s Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for 2021.


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A 10-year-old boy has won a prestigious* international wildlife photography competition for his shot of a spider weaving its web in the light of a passing tuktuk*.

Vidyun R Hebbar won the Natural History Museum’s Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for 2021 with his photograph titled Dome home.

The fifth grader, who started taking photographs at the age of three, lives in Bengaluru, India, and enjoys capturing everyday city creatures that are often overlooked.

He found this tiny tent spider, with a leg span of less than 15mm, in its web in a gap in a wall at his local theme park.

A passing tuktuk provided the colourful backdrop to set off the spider’s web, a network of tangled threads that form a dome and make it difficult for prey to escape.

media_cameraYoung Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 Vidyun R Hebbar, from India, started taking photographs when he was just three years old. Picture: Natural History Museum

“The jury loved this photo from the beginning of the judging process,” said jury member and a museum researcher Dr Natalie Cooper.

“It is a great reminder to look more closely at the small animals we live with every day, and to take your camera with you everywhere.

“You never know where that award-winning image is going to come from.”

Vidyun’s photograph won in the age 10 and under category and also earned him the overall title of Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which is open to photographers aged up to 18.

French underwater photographer and biologist* Laurent Ballesta won the grand title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his shot of the rare sight of camouflage groupers leaving a mating frenzy which happens only once a year under a full moon.

media_cameraLaurent Ballesta, of France, was named overall Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 for his shot of camouflage groupers in a mating frenzy, titled Creation.

Ballesta’s winning shot, titled Creation, was taken on a 24-hour dive at a depth of 20m.

Winners were chosen in 19 categories from more than 50,000 entries from 95 countries.

Australian Adam Oswell won the Photojournalism division for his Elephant in the room photograph, which draws attention to elephants in captivity in Thailand.

The shot shows a young elephant performing underwater at a Thai zoo, watched on by zoo visitors.

Although this performance was promoted as educational and as exercise for the elephants, Oswell was disturbed by the scene.

Animal welfare groups say performances like these exploit* animals because they encourage unnatural behaviour.

Elephant tourism has increased across Asia. In Thailand there are now more elephants in captivity than in the wild.

media_cameraAustralian photographer Adam Oswell draws attention to the exploitation of captive animals with his shot, titled Elephant in the room. It shows a baby elephant performing underwater for visitors at Thai zoo.

Another Australian entry, from Doug Gimesy, shows grey-headed flying foxes in Melbourne’s Yarra Bend colony desperately trying to stay cool during a 43C heatwave.

It was a losing battle for many. Park Ranger and grey-headed flying fox project officer Stephen Brend estimated that during this day, more than 4500 flying foxes – about 10 per cent of the colony – died.

The species is currently listed as vulnerable* to extinction, with significant threats including continued habitat destruction and an increase in dangerous heatwaves caused by climate change.

media_cameraAustralian Doug Gimsey’s shot, titled A deadly huddle, shows grey-headed flying foxes trying to stay cool during a heatwave in Melbourne.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has been run by London’s famous Natural History Museum for more than 50 years.

The prestigious awards celebrate the beauty of our natural world, including habitats, animal behaviour and extraordinary species.


Entries for the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 award are open. Young photographers can find more information at


  • prestigious: respected and admired
  • tuktuk: a three-wheeled motorised vehicle used as a taxi
  • biologist: a scientist who studies living things
  • exploit: when someone uses someone or something unfairly to gain a benefit for themself
  • vulnerable: exposed, at risk


How to be a junior wildlife photographer

Funny wildlife shots are something to smile about

Tree-hugging tiger photo wins wildlife award

Lockdown dives produce winning nature snap


  1. Which country is Vidyun from?
  2. What type of spider did he photograph?
  3. What provided the background lighting for his photograph?
  4. Which famous museum runs the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition?
  5. How many entries were there in the competition?


1. Write New Titles
Think about the four photographs in the story. Write a new and better title for each photo.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts

2. Extension
Think of something ordinary that you see every day. Write a story or make an artwork that makes this ordinary thing special or extraordinary.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum English, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

Caption This
They say a picture says a thousand words because of all the detail it can capture, but what if you only had a tweet not a thousand words?

Using a maximum of 280 characters, can you create a caption or short description for Vidyun’s winning photograph that still captures the audience’s attention?

Share your caption or short description with a partner and discuss why you wrote it that way.

See if you can up-level your writing even more by making sure your vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation are as specific as they can be.

Extra Reading in arts