From bickering penguins to a shocking pile of plastic in an elephant’s path – this year’s top wildlife photos have been unveiled.
People will be able to pick their favourite from a shortlist of 25, whittled down from almost 50,000 submitted to the Natural History Museum for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Dr Douglas Gurr, the museum’s director, described this year’s selection – developed and produced by the museum – as “outstanding” and said they vary between “breathtaking beauty” and telling a “powerful story”.
Voting is open from now until 31 January 2024 and the winning image will be announced in the following month.
The image above, taken by Marco Gaiotti, shows a gelada monkey suckling its baby alongside a companion at the edge of a plateau in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.
Here’s a look at the other 24 images that made the cut:
Looking At Me, Looking At You – John E. Marriott, Canada
Location: Chilko River, British Columbia, Canada
Caught in the middle of salmon fishing, this grizzly bear spotted the photographer as he snapped away downstream.
Mr Marriott was leading a grizzly bear photography tour on the Chilko River when the group came across this bear on its hind legs.
Opportunity Fox – Matt Maran, UK
Location: London, UK
Over a two-month period, Mr Maran watched a young red fox learn the best time to climb into this bin in London.
It figured out it was Monday evenings, shortly before the weekly collection and when the rubbish was piled high – meaning any discarded food rested on top would be well within reach.
An urban fox’s diet is made up of more than 50% natural food, such as earthworms, wild birds, seeds and fruits. As a result, these animals play an important role in the urban ecosystem.
Ice bed – Nima Sarikhani, UK
Location: Off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago
After three days searching for polar bears through thick fog in the far north off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, a vessel carrying Mr Sarikhani changed course.
In the south-east, they found a younger and an older male and watched them for more than eight hours – when the younger male climbed on to a small iceberg and clawed away to carve out a bed for himself.
Aurora Jellies – Audun Rikardsen, Norway
Location: Tromsø, northern Norway
Moon jellyfish swarm in the waters of a fjord outside Tromsø in northern Norway, and they are then illuminated by the aurora borealis – the northern lights.
These jellyfish are common in all oceans and are easily recognised by their four rings, which are their genitals.
Rubbish Drinks – Claire Waring, UK
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 in Indonesia.
These animals have learned bottles contain liquid and they often chew off the caps to reach it.
They’ve also worked out coloured bottles are more likely to have sweet liquid, while some even carried bottles away into the forest, which frustrate rangers’ efforts.
Ducking Huddle – Charles Davis, Australia
Location: Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia
It would normally be warm when these ducklings hatch from their nest, but because of the La Niña effect things were a bit different this year.
Warmer waters in the western Pacific caused more rain than normal in eastern Australia and subsequent cooler and wetter springs and summers.
The ducklings chose to exit their nest, dropping down into a frozen world, quickly becoming lost in a snowstorm as their mother frantically tried to lead them to open water.
Autumn Glow by Uge Fuertes Sanz, Spain
Location: The Cabriel River in the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains, Spain
A composition of bulrushes and quaking aspens in a small corner of the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains in Spain.
The photographer took more than a hundred images while waiting for a cloud to pass overhead so a soft light would wash over.
Swallow Over Meadow – Hermann Hirsch/Jan Lessman, Germany
Location: eastern Germany
Positioning their camera among the cornflowers, the two photographers watched as the swallows continuously flew low over the meadow.
With a remote control, they took this picture as one of the swallows flew over the camera.
Missed Sip of Milk – Karim Iliya, USA/Lebanon
Location: off the coast of Rurutu, French Polynesia
A humpback whale calf here misses some of its mother’s milk, which then swirls in the currents.
These animals don’t have lips, so the calves can be clumsy and on very rare occasions miss some of the milk.
Bull In A Garbage Dump – Brent Stirton, South Africa
Location: Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka
This bull elephant was seen kicking over garbage as it scavenged for rotten vegetables and fruit at a dump in Sri Lanka.
Starling Murmuration – Daniel Dencescu, Germany/Romania
Location: Rome, Italy
Mr Denescu spent hours following the starlings around the city and suburbs of Rome.
Finally, on a cloudless winter’s day, the flock swirled into the shape of a giant bird.
Fashion Victims – Britta Jaschinski, Germany/UK
Location: Hamburg’s Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change, Germany
These are made from the skins of some of the most endangered big cats and were confiscated by European customs officers and held for forensic tests before being used for educational events.
During a photoshoot, Ms Jaschinski learnt that on average the fur industry uses 12 animals to make one coat.
She tried to identify how many cats were killed to make what’s in this image, but they stopped counting as they found it too shocking.
Hope – Robert García-Roa, Spain
Location: Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in the Republic of Guinea
A rescued chimpanzee looks on from its enclosure in the Republic of Guinea.
This species is now considered critically endangered in Guinea, but the centre where this chimpanzee was pictured tries to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild.
Incoming Cuckoo Wasp – Frank Deschandol, France
Location: Near Montpellier, France
A cuckoo wasp is captured trying to enter a mason bee’s clay burrow as a smaller cuckoo wasp cleans its wings below – and it has an interesting twist.
While Deschandol was taking pictures, the larger cuckoo wasp flew off and returned with a drop of water at its mouth seconds later.
It uses water and saliva to soften the clay so it can dig into the bee’s sealed-up burrow.
Once it gains entry, it lays its own egg and then closes the burrow up – so when the cuckoo wasp’s egg hatches, it can feed on the mason bee larvae already there.
From 2020 – Wildlife Photographer Of The Year – which is your favourite image?
From 2022 – These 25 stunning images are shortlisted for a top photography award
Tough Negotiation – Ayala Fishaimer, Israel
Location: Judean Foothills, Israel
This picture was snapped just after a COVID lockdown in Israel – and came within the first hours of Ms Fishaimer’s visit of the Judean foothills.
Here, a red fox cub locks eyes with the shrew it had just thrown up in the air moments earlier, having found it in the sand and played with it.
Tender Touch – Andy Parkinson, UK
Location: The Monadhliath Mountains, Scotland
In 15 years of photographing the hares in Scottish mountains, Mr Parkinson hadn’t ever seen this moment.
The two courting hares touched noses – which was unexpected as usually the female repels the male’s advances with boxing behaviour.
A Rare Sight – Axel Gomille, Germany
Location: The Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest species of wild dog in the world. This one is seen resting among the highland vegetation in the African country.
There are only a few hundred left.
Shared Parenting – Mark Boyd, Kenya
Location: Maasai Mara, Kenya
My Boyd watched early in the morning as these lionesses groomed one of their five cubs, having returned from a hunt, leaving the cubs hidden overnight in dense bushes.
They called the cubs out onto the open grassland when they came back.
Females raise each other’s cubs as their own, sharing parenting duties.
Homecoming – Dvir Barkay, USA/Israel
Location: The lowland forests of Costa Rica
Dvir Barkay spent more than two months trying to picture the rarely-photographed pygmy round-eared bat in Costa Rica.
Using a nearby branch to support his camera, Mr Barkay set up an infrared trigger near the entrance of the roost, together with three diffused flashes.
This image shows one of the bats coming home as two well-camouflaged relatives peer.
Curiosity – Gerald Hinde, South Africa
Location: Greater National Park, South Africa
Mr Hinde had parked his vehicle in the riverbed in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park.
This was the first lion cub to investigate his arrival.
Neighbourhood Dispute – Ofer Levy, Australia
Location: Roebuck Bay, Australia
Mudskippers are fiercely territorial and often build walls made of mud around their territories.
The crab in this image is trespassing, and by opening its mouth and raising its fin, the mudskipper is challenging the intruder.
Snowshoes – Deena Sveinsson, USA
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, USA
Ms Sveinsson positioned herself as quietly as she could in front of this snowshoe hare, which was asleep on a mound of snow.
It took hours, but the hare eventually woke and hopped in Deena’s direction.
She captured the exact moment in its hop when the hare pulled its back feet up next to its head.
Troublemaker – Stefan Christmann, Germany
Location: Atka Bay, Antartica
Mr Christmann waited to see how this interaction would unfold.
Adélie penguins – which only appear in Antarctica’s Atka Bay briefly in the summer – are opportunists and can be a nuisance for emperor penguins.
They will sometimes try to make the adult or the chick drop its food, snatching any that falls to the ground.
The Happy Turtle – Tzahi Finkelstein, Israel
Location: Jezreel Valley, Israel
Mr Finkelstein was in Israel’s Jezreel Valley taking pictures of shore birds when he spotted a Balkan pond turtle in the shallows.
He wasn’t interested at first – not until a dragonfly flew past his lens in the direction of the turtle.
It unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose, and may have usually been snapped up, but instead the turtle appeared to enjoy the insect, sharing what judges believe looks like a peaceful moment.
Source : Sky News