The London Natural History Museum has just announced the winners of its 52nd Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, and the entries they submitted are truly stunning. It wasn’t easy for the judges to make their decision – they had to sift through some 50,000 entries from 95 countries. Here are the winners, in all their glory:
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Overall Winner – “Entwined Lives”
Pictured is a Bornean orangutan, which is a critically-endangered species. It was spotted in the Gunung National Park - one of the few remaining orangutan strongholds in Indonesia. This shot was captured by a GoPro camera set high in the trees by the photographer. He triggered it remotely at just the right moment, and won the overall prize for his image's technical flair and deep symbolism.
Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winner – “The Moon and the Crow”
This image was shot by Gideon Knight, a 16-year-old photographer who lives in London's Valentines Park. He captured this magical shot close to his home. Lewis Blackwell, who chaired the competition's jury, said: "If an image could create a poem, it would be like this."
Plants and Fungi Winner – “Wind Composition”
Glorious detail is the hallmark of this shot, which depicts a close-up of the intricacies of the hazel tree's male and female flowers. While the latter is a small, bud-like structure with a red-tufted stigma, the former's elongated flowers are known as catkins. They release vast amounts of pollen into the wind, as can be observed in the image.
Urban Winner – “The Alley Cat”
A leopard slinks its way through the alleys of a Mumbai suburb in search of food. While they're somewhat feared for the occasional attack on humans, they are accepted as being part of daily life in this part of the world. Their most common victims actually tend to be stray dogs.
Black and White Winner – “Requiem for an Owl”
Photographer Mats Andersson was making his way through a forest in Bashult, Sweden, when he came across a pair of Eurasian pygmy owls. These adorable little birds measure a mere 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) tall. This photograph was taken a few days after his initial encounter. Sadly, one of the owls had perished, and the one pictured was looking over its dead companion, visibly upset.
Underwater Winner – “Snapper Party”
Thousands of two-spot red snappers converge upon the spawning grounds around the western Pacific isle of Palau each month, in tandem with each full moon. During this time, a frantic frenzy of mating takes place. The photographer was lucky enough to capture a dynamic arc of spawning fish amid clouds of eggs.
Details Winner – “Sand Canvas”
A shot two years in the making is pictured. It depicts the white sand of Brazil's Maranhenses National Park, which acts like a blank canvas to the incoming rain. The streaks of color that you can see are actually created by bacteria. The shot was taken from a plane flying overhead.
Impressions Winner – “Star Player”
A curious young Californian sea lion came to say hello to the photographer off the island of Espiritu Santo. During the close encounter, it grabbed a starfish and used it as a frisbee in a bid to practice its hunting techniques.
Single Image Photojournalist Award Winner – “The Pangolin Pit”
This upsetting sight is of 4,000 dead pangolins that were on their way to China for use in traditional Chinese medicine. They were seized en route to China when they were discovered in a container of frozen fish. Some 96 live specimens were also found, and promptly released into the wild. Pangolins are critically endangered.