25 award-winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest show the beauty and fragility of animals in the wild

25 award-winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest show the beauty and fragility of animals in the wild
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25 award-winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest show the beauty and fragility of animals in the wild
Location: Atka Bay, Antarctica.

  • London’s Natural History Museum hosts an annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.
  • Photos show monkeys, lions, turtles, and bears, and other animals in the wild.
  • The People’s Choice Award winner shows a polar bear sleeping on an iceberg.

An annual contest highlighting the best in wildlife photography shared its winning photos on Wednesday.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

A panel of judges shortlisted 25 images out of 50,000 submissions. Members of the public then voted for the top five photos, with the top-voted image receiving the People’s Choice Award.

The winning photos will be displayed at the Natural History Museum through June 30, 2024.

Here are the best images from this year’s contest, including the top five fan favorites.

“Snowshoes” by Deena Sveinsson
A snowshoe hare
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, USA.

“A snowshoe hare pulls its feet to its head to make the next big hop across the soft, deep snow in the forests of the Rocky Mountain National Park, USA,” the Natural History Museum’s caption reads.

“Tender Touch” by Andy Parkinson
Two rabbits touch noses in the snow
Location: The Monadhliath Mountains, Scotland, UK.

“Two courting mountain hares come together to touch noses in the Monadhliath Mountains in Scotland, UK,” the museum captioned the photo.

“A Rare Sight” by Axel Gomille
A wild dog in Ethiopia
Location: The Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia.

“The summer greens and blues provide the perfect backdrop for the chestnut tones of the Ethiopian wolf’s coat in this serene image,” the Natural History Museum wrote. “The rarest species of wild dog in the world, there are only a few hundred left, surviving in the low-growing, Afro-alpine shrubland of the highlands of Ethiopia.”  

“Looking At Me, Looking At You” by John E. Marriott
A grizzly bear rises up on its hind legs
Location: Chilko River, British Columbia, Canada.

“A grizzly bear rises up on its hind legs and glances towards the photographer before returning to fish for salmon in the Chilko River in British Columbia, Canada,” the museum wrote.

“Neighborhood Dispute” by Ofer Levy
A mudskipper fiercely defends its territory from a trespassing crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia.
Location: Roebuck Bay, Australia.

The Natural History Museum’s caption reads: “A mudskipper fiercely defends its territory from a trespassing crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia.”

“Homecoming” by Dvir Barkay
A pygmy round-eared bat returns to its termite-nest home
Location: Costa Rica.

“A pygmy round-eared bat returns to its termite-nest home as two well-camouflaged family members look out from the entrance in the lowland forests of Costa Rica,” the museum wrote.

“The Grassland Geladas” by Marco Gaiotti
A gelada suckles its baby alongside a companion at the edge of a plateau in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.
Location: Simien Mountains, Ethiopia.

“Taken during the August rainy season, with looming clouds threatening a downpour, a gelada mother suckles her baby alongside a female companion,” the Natural History Museum captioned Gaiotti’s photo. “The gelada family unit, known as a harem, usually consists of one male and a small number of related females and their young.”

“Swallow Over Meadow” by Hermann Hirsch and Jan Lessman
A barn swallow flies over a meadow of cornflowers, catching insects during springtime in eastern Germany.
Location: Germany.

“Hermann and Jan had chosen to take photographs at an old farm, knowing barn swallows were nesting there,” the museum wrote of Hirsch and Lessman’s image. “As their name suggests, barn swallows prefer to nest inside buildings and usually return to the same spot each year, repairing nesting cups sculpted from mud and clay.  

“Positioning their camera among the cornflowers, Hermann and Jan watched as the swallows continuously flew low over the meadow, catching insects on the wing. Using a remote control, they took this beautiful picture as one of the swallows flew over the camera.”

“Troublemaker” by Stefan Christmann
25 award-winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest show the beauty and fragility of animals in the wild
Location: Atka Bay, Antarctica.

“An Adélie penguin approaches an emperor penguin and its chick during feeding time in Antarctica’s Atka Bay,” the museum wrote.

“Tough Negotiation” by Ayala Fishaimer
A red fox cub
Location: Israel.

“Standing on a rock in the Judean Foothills of Israel, a red fox cub locks eyes with the shrew it had thrown up in the air moments earlier,” the museum’s caption reads.

“Autumn Glow” by Uge Fuertes Sanz
A painting-like composition of bulrushes and quaking aspens is framed in a small corner of the Cabriel River in the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains, Spain.
Location: The Cabriel River in the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains, Spain.

“A painting-like composition of bulrushes and quaking aspens is framed in a small corner of the Cabriel River in the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains, Spain,” the Natural History Museum wrote of the photo.

“Incoming Cuckoo Wasp” by Frank Deschandol
A cuckoo wasp is captured mid-air trying to enter a mason bee's clay burrow as a smaller cuckoo wasp cleans its wings below.
Location: Montpellier, France.

“Near Montpellier, France, a cuckoo wasp is captured mid-air trying to enter a mason bee’s clay burrow as a smaller cuckoo wasp cleans its wings below,” the museum captioned the photo.

“Duckling Huddle” by Charles Davis
A wood duck and its brood are caught in a late spring snowstorm in Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia.
Location: Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia.

“A wood duck and its brood are caught in a late spring snowstorm in Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia,” the Natural History Museum wrote.

“Curiosity” by Gerald Hinde
A curious lion cub walks towards the photographer
Location: Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia.

“A wood duck and its brood are caught in a late spring snowstorm in Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia,” the photo caption reads.

“Bull In A Garbage Dump” by Brent Stirton
A bull elephant kicks over garbage as it scavenges for rotten vegetables and fruit at a dump in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.
Location: Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

“A bull elephant kicks over garbage as it scavenges for rotten vegetables and fruit at a dump in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka,” the museum wrote.

“Rubbish Drinks” by Claire Waring
A Celebes crested macaque investigates the contents of a plastic bottle
Location: Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, Indonesia.

“A Celebes crested macaque investigates the contents of a plastic bottle from a pile ready for recycling on a beach at the edge of Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, Indonesia,” the Natural History Museum wrote.

“Hope” by Roberto García-Roa
A rescued chimpanzee looks on from its enclosure at the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in the Republic of Guinea.
Location: The Republic of Guinea.

“A rescued chimpanzee looks on from its enclosure at the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in the Republic of Guinea,” the museum captioned García-Roa’s image.

“Fashion Victims” by Britta Jaschinski
Coats made of endangered big cats
Location: Germany.

Highly Commended: “Aurora Jellies” by Audun Rikardsen
Moon jellyfish in the northern lights in Norway
Location: Tromsø, Norway.

“Moon jellyfish swarm in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromsø in northern Norway illuminated by the aurora borealis,” the Natural History Museum captioned the winning photo.

Highly Commended: “The Happy Turtle” by Tzahi Finkelstein
A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel's Jezreel Valley.
Location: Jezreel Valley, Israel.

“A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley,” the Natural History museum captioned Finkelstein’s image.

“The dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose, but instead of snapping up the insect, the turtle appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment of peaceful coexistence in the midst of the swamp’s murky waters.”

Highly Commended: “Starling Murmuration” by Daniel Dencescu
A mesmerizing mass of starlings swirl into the shape of a giant bird on their way to communal roosts above the city of Rome, Italy.
Location: Rome, Italy.

“Daniel was mesmerized by the movements of the starlings as they formed colossal organic shapes in the sky,” the museum’s caption reads. “Each day, as they returned from foraging, they would gather in large numbers and perform spellbinding aerial shows, known as murmurations, on their flight home to their communal roosts. 

“In a bid to locate the best roosting sites at which to capture the spectacle, Daniel spent hours following the starlings around the city and suburbs of Rome. Finally, on this cloudless winter’s day, the flock didn’t disappoint, swirling into the shape of a giant bird.”

Highly Commended: “Shared Parenting” by Mark Boyd
A pair of lionesses devotedly groom one of the pride's five cubs in Kenya's Maasai Mara.
Location: Maasai Mara, Kenya.

“Early in the morning, Mark watched as these lionesses groomed one of their five cubs in their territory in Kenya’s Maasai Mara,” the museum captioned the photo.

“Females raise each other’s cubs as their own, sharing parenting duties. Here the youngster was clearly enjoying the moment of affection and attention,” it added.

People’s Choice Award: “Ice Bed” by Nima Sarikhani
A polar bear carves out a bed from a small iceberg before drifting off to sleep in the far north, off Norway's Svalbard archipelago.
Location: Svalbard archipelago, Norway.

“A polar bear carves out a bed from a small iceberg before drifting off to sleep in the far north, off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago,” the Natural History Museum wrote of Sarikhani’s award-winning image.

“Having spent three days desperately searching for polar bears through thick fog in the far north off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the expedition vessel Nima was on decided to change course. It turned and headed to the southeast, where there was still some sea ice.  

“Here, they encountered a younger and an older male and watched the pair over the following eight hours. Just before midnight, the young male clambered onto a small iceberg and, using his strong paws, clawed away at it to carve out a bed for himself before drifting off to sleep.”

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