Best Wildlife Photography Of The Year: 25 Photos To Vote For Your Favorite


Wildlife photography and nature fans from around the world are invited to vote for their favorite image to win the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

From a mudskipper fish defending its territory and a family of monkeys posing for a Christmas card to a young London fox making the most of a full bin, the 25 unforgettable images from which to choose, explore the beauty of the natural world and the impact of our actions.

The photographs were chosen by London’s Natural History Museum, which develops and produces the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and an international judging panel considering 49,957 entries from 95 countries.

“Since our panel of judges can only award 100 winners, each year the Natural History Museum chooses an additional 25 photographs from which we ask the public to select the recipient of the People’s Choice Award,” the organizers explain.

This year’s selection also includes the moment an Adélie penguin approached an emperor penguin and its chick, and the striking image of fashion garments made from the skins of some of the most endangered big cats.

“Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s People’s Choice Award always offers an astounding selection of images and this year is no different,” said Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum. “We invite the public to join the jury and vote for their favorite. “Whether breathtaking beauty or a powerful story, it’s sure to be a difficult decision.”

MORE FROM FORBESBest Wildlife Photographer Of The Year: People’s Choice Award Winners

The public can vote for their favorite image either online or at the flagship Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum. Voting closes on January 31, 2024.

The winner and top four images will be announced in February, 2024, and join the winners of the 59th competition announced earlier this year. The People’s Choice Award images will also be showcased in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the exhibition closes on June 30, 2024.

Using photography’s unique emotive power, the annual competition and touring exhibition shine a light on inspiring and impactful stories from the natural world to create advocates for the planet.

The 60th competition is currently open for entries to photographers of all ages, nationalities and experience until December 7.

To celebrate the momentous anniversary, Wildlife Photographer of the Year has announced an entry fee waiver for more than 100 countries, changes to the competition’s rules and a new special prize to encourage hopeful stories of the natural world.

Vote online for the winner of the People’s Choice Award here.

A neighborhood dispute erupts as a mudskipper fiercely defends its territory from a trespassing crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia. Mudskippers can live both in and out of the water as long as they remain wet. They thrive along the intertidal mudflats and mangroves of Western Australia.

These amphibious fish are fiercely territorial, often building mud walls around their territories where they feed and breed. This crab is evidently trespassing and by opening its mouth and raising its dorsal fin, the mudskipper is challenging the intruder, attempting to scare it off with a threatening display.

Taken during the August rainy season as looming clouds threaten overhead, a Gelada mother suckles her baby alongside a female companion at the edge of a plateau in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

The gelada family unit, known as a harem, usually consists of one male and a small number of related females and their young. Gelada monkeys live only in the high mountain meadows of Ethiopia, where they spend most of their time on the ground grazing. However, with numbers of domestic livestock increasing, their grazing grasslands are now diminishing, pushing them into restricted areas.

A young red fox takes advantage of a bin stacked high with rubbish before collection day on a street in London. Over a two-month, period Matt Maran watched as this young male red fox learned that the best time to climb into this street bin was shortly before the weekly collection, when rubbish was piled high and any discarded food was easy to get at.

Contrary to popular belief, 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.

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. John Marriott was leading a grizzly bear photography boat tour on the Chilko River when the group came across this busy bear.

Two courting mountain hares come together to touch noses in Scotland’s Monadhliath Mountains. For 15 years, Andrew Parkinson has been photographing the hares here. But in all that time, he had never witnessed a moment like this. He was expecting the female to repel the male’s advances with the usual explosive boxing behavior.

A mesmerising mass of starlings swirl into the shape of a giant bird on their way to communal roosts above the city of Rome, Italy. Daniel Dencescu, who has photographed the behavior of starling murmurations being attacked by peregrine falcons, was mesmerised by the movements of the starlings as they formed colossal organic shapes in the sky. Each day, as they return from foraging, they perform spellbinding aerial shows, known as murmurations, on their flight home.

“Grouping together offers safety in numbers,” he noted. “Predators such as the peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotizing flock of thousands. The starlings also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas.

There is no leader in a murmuration, the flock behaves as one single entity. To stay united through the different escape patterns, each bird tracks and mimics the behavior of seven neighbors. The group can adapt quickly by focusing on a fixed number of birds, becoming dense or sparse, splitting and changing shape. This is a game of life and death.”

A polar bear carved out a bed from a small iceberg before drifting off to sleep in the far north off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. After three days searching for polar bears through thick fog, the expedition vessel Nima encountered a younger and an older male and watched them for the next eight hours. Just before midnight, the young male clambered onto this small iceberg and using his strong paws clawed away at it to carve out a bed for himself before drifting off to sleep.

An Adélie penguin approaches an emperor penguin and its chick during feeding time in Antarctica’s Atka Bay. Adélie penguins only appear in Antarctica’s Atka Bay for a short period during the southern hemisphere summer. They’re opportunists and can be a nuisance for emperor penguins and their chicks as they try to cause the adult or the chick to drop its food, snatching any that falls to the ground.

In this serene image among the highland vegetation of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park, one of the rarest species of wild dogs in the world, the Ethiopian wolf, takes a rest.

Only a few hundred remain, surviving in the low growing, Afro-alpine shrubland of the National Park which supports their largest population. They’re threatened by habitat loss and diseases such as rabies and canine distemper which they catch from domestic dogs.

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 on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Rangers had collected piles of plastic bottles for recycling. Most of them had washed up from the sea and despite the sizeable pile, more would soon be added.

The Celebes crested macaques have learned that these bottles contain liquid and are often seen chewing off the caps to reach the contents. They’ve also worked out that the colored bottles are more likely to contain sweet liquid and so pick these. Some even carried bottles away into the forest, frustrating the rangers’ efforts.

A rarely-photographed pygmy round-eared bat returns to its termite-nest home as two well-camouflaged family members look out from the entrance in the lowland rainforests of Costa Rica.

The bats exhibit a unique roosting behaviour, resting in hollows that they carve out with their teeth inside the nests of termite colonies.

A cuckoo wasp is captured mid-air trying to enter a mason bee’s clay burrow containing the bee’s eggs as a smaller cuckoo wasp cleans its wings below. Frank Deschandol set up near the mason bee’s clay burrow but it wasn’t this species he wanted to capture.

Instead, he was hoping to photograph the rare cuckoo wasp that parasitizes these bees. While he was taking some shots, the larger cuckoo wasp flew off, returning seconds later with a drop of water at its mouth. The wasp uses water and saliva to soften the clay so it can dig into the bee’s sealed-up burrow. Once inside, it lays its own egg then closes the burrow up again. When the cuckoo wasp’s egg hatches, it feeds on mason bee larvae inside the burrow.

A wood duck and its brood are caught in a late spring snowstorm in Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia. It would normally be warm and sunny when these ducklings hatch from their nest high up in a tree hollow but thanks to the La Niña effect, things were different this year.

Despite the conditions, the ducklings chose to exit their nest, dropping down into a frozen world. Upon landing, they quickly became lost in a snowstorm as their mother frantically tried to lead them to open water.

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 cub had pulled the shrew out of the sand and had been knocking it around like a ball. Ayala Fishaimer caught the moment the hapless shrew and the fox locked eyes.

A snowshoe hare pulls its large back feet up next to its head to make the next big hop across the soft, deep snow in the forests of Rocky Mountain National Park. Its large feet prevent the hare from sinking into the deep, soft snow, acting like snowshoes —hence its name.

Under the watchful eye of its mother in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, a curious lion cub walks towards the photographer, who was watching from a vehicle. Lion cubs are vulnerable to other predators such as leopards and hyenas, but often the main threat is from invading male lions. For the first six weeks they’re kept hidden away, after which they’re introduced to the pride and protection is provided by all the members.

A barn swallow flies over a meadow of cornflowers, catching insects during springtime in eastern Germany. 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 Hirsch and Jan Lessman watched as the swallows continuously flew low over the meadow, catching insects on the wing.

A humpback whale calf misses some of its mother’s milk, which drifts and swirls in the currents off the coast of Rurutu, French Polynesia. In the seven years and hundreds of hours Karim Iliya has been documenting humpback whales, he’s only seen whale milk floating in the water twice, both times here with the same whale and her calf. Humpback whales lack lips, so the calves can be clumsy and on very rare occasions miss some of the milk.

A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley. 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 in the midst of the swamp’s murky waters.

Moon jellyfish swarm in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromsø in northern Norway, illuminated by the aurora borealis. It’s common for this species to gather in their hundreds under the aurora borealis.

Moon jellyfish are common in all oceans and are easily recognized by their four rings, which are, in fact, their genitals.

A painting-like composition of bulrushes and quaking aspens is framed in a small corner of the Cabriel River in Spain’s Sierra de Albarracín Mountains. The light and the composition of the plants between the trunks, together with the shapes and colors of the autumn leaves, create texture and balance.

A rescued chimpanzee looks on from its enclosure at the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in the Republic of Guinea. The center houses orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from being sold as pets after their mothers were killed for bushmeat, with the aim of releasing them back into the national park. Once abundant in Guinea, the western chimpanzee population is declining and the species is now classified as “Critically Endangered.”

A bull elephant kicks over garbage as it scavenges for rotten vegetables and fruit at a dump in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka. A number of male elephants are attracted to this location not only by the rubbish but also by nearby crops. The scar from a gunshot wound on the upper part of this elephant’s left front leg and another wound high on its back indicate he’s an insistent crop raider.

Human-elephant conflict often escalates from shouting and fireworks to frighten the elephants away from crops and people to shooting. The shots are seldom fatal and deter the elephants for a couple of months.

These coats were made from the skins of some of the most endangered big cats including snow leopard, jaguar and ocelote that were killed to produce the fashion items. They were confiscated by European customs officers and held for forensic tests at Hamburg’s Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change before being used for educational events to ensure they never return to the black market.



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