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The Best Images From The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest Have Been Announced And Some Of Them Are Disturbing

Published 12 months ago

#21 “The Meerkat Mob” By Tertius A Gous, South Africa, Highly Commended 2018 Behaviours Mammals

Rearing its head, an Anchieta’s cobra lunged towards two meerkat pups. Reacting instantly, their 20-strong pack ran back to the warren and split into two – half ushering the pups away, the other half advancing towards the snake, growling and fluffing up their coats. Focusing on the snake’s classic profile, Tertius caught the meerkat mob’s fear and aggression.

This scene is rare – there are few records of an Anchieta’s cobra attacking a meerkat pack. In a group, the mammals have the advantage, using a system of alarm calls to notify others of predators and to co-ordinate a mobbing of the attacker. This snake was just an opportunistic hunter looking to snatch one of the p ups before the pack arrived.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#22 “Mud-Rolling Mud-Dauber” By Georgina Steytler, Australia, Winner 2018 Behaviours Invertebrates

Georgina was at the waterhole early to photograph birds, but her attention was diverted to these industrious wasps. They were busy at the water’s edge, rolling the soft mud into balls and carrying them to their nearby nests. For a good angle, she lay in the mud, then pre-focused on a likely flight path and began shooting continuously.

The female mud-dauber wasps use the mud balls to build their nests. Collecting them into clusters, they then carve chambers inside the balls into which the females lay their eggs. Before closing each one up, the wasps insert the paralysed bodies of orb-weaving spiders as food for their larvae when they hatch.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#23 Autopsy By Antonio Olmos, Mexico / Uk, Highly Commended 2018 Wildlife Photojournalism

A young Siberian tigress is laid out, awaiting an autopsy. Its emaciated body was found under a car, missing a forepaw. Undoubtedly, it had chewed off its own foot after being caught in a poacher’s trap. Unable to hunt, it would have slowly starved to death. For Antonio, seeing such a majestic animal reduced to this was heartbreaking.

Siberian tigers have been hunted almost to extinction, with barely 360 left in the wild. Despite being classified as endangered for the past few decades, their numbers continue to decline, as they are hunted by poachers and their homes are lost to deforestation. Human disregard continues to decimate tiger populations, leaving their fate hanging in the balance.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#24 Ghost Trees By Frans Lanting, The Netherlands, Winner 2018 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Lifetime Achievement Award

A river once flowed through this remarkable place in the dunes of Namibia, but it changed course. The camelthorn trees that once flourished here are now just sculptural skeletons on a rock-hard clay pan. But backed by soaring dunes glowing with sunrise light, they are monuments to a time of abundance.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#25 “The Catch” By Robert Irwin, Australia, Highly Commended 2018 11–14 Years Old

Robert was trudging through dense woodland at night when he saw the huntsman spider, dangling in mid-air, clutching a dead frog. ‘It was fascinating to see it manipulating the frog with its front legs while gripping it with its fangs,’ he said. ‘To see it predating an animal so large was extraordinary.’

Huntsman spiders don’t build webs. Instead they hunt their prey, usually stalking large insects and other spiders, but also occasionally frogs. This one probably fell off a branch while struggling with the frog, and was left hanging dramatically from a silk anchor line. It had set this up as a precaution against such an event.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#26 Michel D’oultremont, Belgium, Winner 2018 Rising Star Portfolio Award

Dream Duel
As storm clouds gathered over the forest, the roaring sound of two competing red deer stags echoed through the trees. Well matched, neither challenger would walk away, so the contest escalated to a dramatic clash of antlers. Michel, hiding behind a tree under a camouflage net, had time to capture just a few frames before the stags separated.

Every autumn, young males, known as bucks, begin the annual search for a mate and compete to attract female attention. In preparation, males will often binge on fallen conkers, bulking up for their displays of strength. During the rutting season, bucks will stand side by side, assessing their rivals before locking antlers and going into battle.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#27 “Witness” By Emily Garthwaite, Uk, Highly Commended 2018 Wildlife Photojournalism

When Emily approached, the young sun bear hurried to the front of its filthy zoo cage, seemingly eager to interact with her. Yet when it spotted its keeper, its demeanour changed. As the keeper poked and provoked the bear ‘he started screaming,’ said Emily. ‘I’ve never heard such an awful noise, it was very frightening.’

Sun bears are the world’s rarest bears, yet are commonly exploited for their gall bladders and bile. In traditional Chinese medicine the bile is thought to treat a range of ailments, from hangovers to hepatitis. Cubs are farmed, sometimes living permanently with a catheter used to drain the bile.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#28 “Overview” By Cameron Mcgeorge, New Zealand, Highly Commended 2018 15–17 Years Old

Cameron built his first drone with his father in 2013, all the while dreaming of photographing whales from the air. Four years later he achieved his ambition, capturing this spectacular shot of a humpback whale, its calf and their accompanying male escort. For Cameron, this image is a unique perspective of ‘nature’s most breathtaking subjects’.

These whales are part of a group known as the Tongan tribe, which is classed as endangered. It lives isolated from other breeding groups, and so numbers have fallen dramatically. Sightings such as this bring hope that the population is recovering. This calf is just a few days old, and the male, hoping to mate with the mother, will defend them both from predators.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#29 “The Sad Clown” By Joan De La Malla, Spain, Winner 2018 Wildlife Photojournalism

Timbul, a long-tailed macaque, puts his hand to his face to try and relieve the discomfort of his mask, while being trained to stand upright for a street show. Sights such as this are common in Indonesia, and Joan spent a long time gaining the trust of the monkey’s owners. ‘They are not bad people,’ she says. Most are earning money to send their children to school.

Macaques like Timbul live in awful conditions, deprived of the social relationships they need to thrive. They work many hours, dancing and riding bikes, movements that are unnatural and uncomfortable. Animal charities are working to enforce legislation that makes it illegal to take young monkeys from the wild or to trade in them without a permit.

Image source: Natural History Museum

#30 “Flight” By Sue Forbes, Uk, Highly Commended 2018 Behaviours Birds

After days of rough seas, Sue woke to find tranquil water and a single young booby circling. ‘Suddenly, a fish leapt out,’ she says, ‘and down came the booby’. With quick reactions, her camera already poised, she captured the fleeting moment of the bird in hot pursuit, reflected in the painterly water.

Boobies are extraordinarily lean, aerodynamic birds. Adults are nimble enough to catch moving targets, but this juvenile might just be practicing. The fish has broken the surface, and is gliding on its stiff pectoral fins. It does this to escape underwater predators, such as tuna and marlin, but this makes it vulnerable to attack from above.

Image source: Natural History Museum

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best nature photography, best wildlife photography, best wildlife photos, Natural History Museum, nature photography, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, wildlife photography
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