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trio of monkeys huddle together for warmth

Cuddle up and choose your favourite from these 25 stunning wildlife images

Published: 01st December, 2021 at 00:01
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Vote now for your favourite image in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

The Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is inviting fans of wildlife photography from around the world to vote online for the winner of the People’s Choice Award. This year’s 25 unforgettable scenes include curious meerkats, an elusive tapir, the rescue of an Amazon river dolphin and a kangaroo and her joey framed by a fire's destruction.

The incredible images were shortlisted by the Natural History Museum from over 50,000 image entries from 95 countries. The 25 images are currently on display at the highly acclaimed Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, until the voting ends on 2 February 2022. The winner will then be showcased until the exhibition closes on 5 June 2022.

The top five People’s Choice Award images will also be displayed online, joining the winners of the fifty-seventh Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition chosen by the esteemed panel of judges and announced earlier this year.

There are 25 images to chose from, so take a look and get voting now.

Lynx cub licking

Photo by Antonio Liebana Navarro, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Iberian lynx are one of the world’s most endangered cats due to habitat loss, decreasing food sources, collisions with vehicles and illegal hunting. But thanks to conservation efforts the species is recovering and can be found in small areas of Portugal and Spain. This image was captured at a conservation project based around photography in Peñalajo, Castilla La Mancha, Spain. Photo by Antonio Liebana Navarro/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Lake of ice

Cristiano Vendramin/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Santa Croce Lake is a natural lake located in the province of Belluno, Italy. In winter 2019, the water in the lake was unusually high and the willow plants were partially submerged, creating a play of light and reflections. Photo by Cristiano Vendramin/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Hope in a burned plantation

An Eastern grey kangaroo and her joey who survived the forest fires in Mallacoota.
An eastern grey kangaroo and her joey who survived the forest fires in Mallacoota, Australia. Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Barracudas

©Yung sen Wu, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
A school of barracudas at Blue Corner, Palau, in the western Pacific Ocean, swim with the photographer in tow. Photo by Yung sen Wu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Monkey cuddle

©Zhang Qiang, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
In China’s Qinling Mountains, a trio of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys huddle together for warmth and comfort. The mountains' temperate forests are the endangered monkeys’ only habitat, which in itself is under threat from forest disturbance. Photo by Zhang Qiang/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Life in black and white

Morning in Okaukuejo, one of the most emblematic waterholes in Africa. Year-round, hundreds of animals go there every day to quench their thirst under the Etosha Pan's hot temperatures. Walking slowly, dozens of Plain Zebras (Equus quagga or Equus burchellii) join the party and start drinking water. The funny fact is that when they are all together, for me, they resemble a living barcode. Like robots, all of them put down their heads to get water and immediately lift it up again to scan the area for predators. This went on for five minutes. My target was to get all of them drinking and just one with the head up. At the end of their visit, I got the shot that I think best represents these emblematic black-and-white striped animals. Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park, Kunene Region, Namibia. Photo by Lucas-Bustamante/
Dozens of plains zebra had showed up to drink at Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park, Namibia, a popular location for the animals of the area to quench their thirst caused by the searing heat of the Sun. Packed closely together and moving as one, the zebra lowered their heads to get water and, almost immediately, robotically lifted them again to scan for danger. Photo by Lucas Bustamante/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Meercats put on a pose

Photo by Thomas Peschak/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This group of meerkats in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa have been in close contact with humans for over a decade, and are very relaxed around people. In fact, they mostly completely ignored the photographer's presence, being way too preoccupied with lounging, hunting, grooming and fighting. Photo by Thomas Peschak/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Breath of an artic fox

Marco Gaiotti, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
A little Arctic fox calls out during the late winter in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, while the cold arctic air reaches -35° celsius. Photo by Marco Gaiotti/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Jaguar of ashes

Photo by Ernane Junior/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The year 2020 saw the number of fires in Brazil's Pantanal wetlands more than double compared to the year before. More than 26 per cent of the total area was affected, and the situation in Encontros das Águas State Park was even worse, with roughly 80 per cent burnt. The park is known for its large jaguar population, and while the photographer was documenting the fires, this male and his brother crossed the Rio Três Irmãos (Three Brothers River) nearby. After reaching the opposite bank, the jaguar rolled in the ash left behind by the desolation of days before, leaving only his face uncovered, his now black body mirroring his charred surroundings. Photo by Ernane Junior/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Building an egg case

Female of Thorned heart orb weaver spider, Micrathena clypeata, building the egg case at night
A female thorned heart orb weaver spider, Micrathena clypeata, building an egg case at night in the Amazon rainforest near Tena, Ecuador. Photo by Javier Aznar González de Rueda/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Dolphin hug

©Jaime Rojo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Federico Mosquera, a biologist from the Omacha Foundation, Colombia, soothes an Amazon river dolphin. These dolphins are extremely tactile animals and direct contact calms them. The team from Omacha and WWF were transporting the dolphin to a temporary veterinarian facility in Puerto Nariño, Colombia, to install a GPS tag in its dorsal fin. The project is part of a broader scientific attempt to understand river dolphin health and migratory patterns. Photo by Jaime Rojo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The jump

©Karl Samitsch, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
A red squirrel jumps between branches in the Cairngorms, United Kingdom. This athletic squirrel was one of a pair, coming to take hazelnuts that the photographer had left for them. Photo by Karl Samitsch/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

All together

A pair of clark’s grebes and their chicks pictured on a lake in San Diego, California, USA. This species build floating nests at the edge of shallow water among the reeds or rushes. The chicks hitch a cosy ride on a parent’s back soon after hatching. This picture was taken a few days after a storm which sadly washed away almost all of the grebes nests. Photo by Photo by Ly Dang/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Shelter from the rain

Photo by Ashleigh McCord/
A pair of male lions share a tender moment during a downpour on the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo by Ashleigh McCord/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The ice bear cometh

In the northern Yukon, even when winter is taking a full grip and the temperatures plummet to -30, a section of the Fishing Branch river never freezes. For the grizzles of the area, this open water provides a final chance before hibernation to gorge. Photo by Andy Skillen
In the northern Yukon, Canada, even when winter is taking a full grip and the temperatures plummet to -30 degrees celsius, a section of the Fishing Branch river never freezes. For the grizzles of the area, this open water provides a final chance before hibernation to gorge. Photo by Andy Skillen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The eagle and the bear

Black bear cubs often climb trees, safely waiting for mom to catch some salmon. This little guy decided to take an afternoon nap, right next to a very surprised eagle, that had been sitting in this three for hours. I could position myself on a hill to get on the same level and took this shot. Taken in Anan, Alaska (US).
Black bear cubs often climb trees, safely waiting for mum to catch some salmon. This little guy decided to take an afternoon nap, right next to a very surprised eagle, that had been sitting in this tree for hours. Taken in Anan, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jeroen-Hoekendijk/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Living together

©Dhritiman Mukherjee, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Satyr tragopans, a rare species of Asian pheasant, are widely hunted for food and plumage, and are normally skittish and very shy. But in this village near Punakha, Bhutan, the birds appear at ease and perfectly relaxed in the presence of local residents. Photo by Dhritiman Mukherjee/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Blackbird backyard

©Jan Leßmann, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The photographer took great pleasure in watching this blackbird from his front door, in his home-town of Greifswald, Germany. It was spring and the blackbird had chosen an old garden hut in which to build her nest. Quietly and secretly she raised her young in this garden idyll. Photo by Jan Leßmann/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Peekaboo

Photo by Michiel Van Noppen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
This Baird’s tapir (or ‘gardeners of the forest’) are extremely important to their natural habitat, with some seeds only germinating after passing through the tapir. But due to threats from deforestation and hunting, there are estimated to be only 6,000 individuals left in the wild. Conservation groups such as Proyecto Tapir Nicaragua and Nai Conservation have been set up to work closely with local communities to promote the importance of preserving the land and protecting an endangered species. This individual is known by locals as 'Dantita', and lives in the foothills of Braulio Carrillo National Park, close to San José in central Costa Rica. Photo by Michiel Van Noppen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Take a look at some of our other great galleries:

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Hitching a ride

A Giant Anteater was foraging around a huge open plain in the Pantanal Brazil when I suddenly noticed that she had a youngster on her back. I grabbed my camera and slowly crept upto a termite mound in the distance which was in the general direction she was moving in. I sat quietly and waited and manged to capture this image as she came walking past with the youngster on her back.
A giant anteater was foraging around a huge open plain in the Pantanal, Brazil, when the photographer suddenly noticed that she had a youngster on her back. This shot was taken as she came walking past with the youngster on her back. Photo by Wim van den Heever/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Stay close

La mére et son petit Orang-outan se repose dans un nid fait de branche / Mother and his cub resting into a nest made with branch. Photo by Maxime Aliaga/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Taking care of a young orangutan requires a lot of energy, and this mother seems to have her work cut out trying to keep her excitable baby in the nest. Since 2011, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program has released more than 120 confiscated apes into the reserve. Their goal is to establish new wild populations as a safety net against population decline. Photographed in the Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve of Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Maxime Aliaga/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Working together

©Minghui Yuan, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
At the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in Yunnan Province, China, green tree ants work together in perfect unity to restrain a green katydid. These remarkable ants don’t always kill, they have been observed ‘farming’ certain types of insects, including leaf hoppers. The ants offer leaf hoppers protection from predators and parasites so that they can feed on the sweet sap the leaf hoppers excrete. Photo by Minghui Yuan/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Bonds of love

Elephant herd rallies around to protect a few day old baby from the unwanted attention of a Bull Elephant. Photo by Peter Delaney/
An elephant herd rallies around to protect a youngster from the unwanted attention of a bull elephant. Photo by Peter Delaney/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Dancing in the snow

©Qian Guo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year
In the Lishan Nature Reserve in Shanxi Province, China, two male golden pheasants continuously swap places on this trunk, their movements akin to a silent dance in the snow. The birds are native to China, where they inhabit dense forests in mountainous regions. Although brightly coloured, they are shy and difficult to spot, spending most of their time foraging for food on the dark forest floor. They only fly to evade predators or to roost in very high trees during the night. Photo by Qian Guo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The future in her hands

Photo by Joan de la Malla/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Due to industrial logging and land clearing for plantation development, the rainforests of Borneo are disappearing fast. Because of this, endemic species like the orangutan are suffering and dying because of habitat loss and are under serious threat. International Animal Rescue rehabilitates orphaned or injured orangutans, giving them the health care they need and preparing them for reintroduction. Here, in a forest enclosure, a keeper takes care of babies who are encouraged to mix with others of a similar age, making nests and foraging for food. Photo by Joan de la Malla/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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Now you have seen all of the images, get voting for your favourite here.

Authors

James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs

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