The winners of the Natural History Museum’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced at an awards ceremony in London last night.


American photographer Karine Aigner was announced as this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year for her remarkable image of a buzzing ball of cactus bees spinning over the hot sand on a Texas ranch. In her bee-level close-up, all except one are males and they are intent on mating with the single female at the centre. Like most bees, they are threatened by habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change, as well as farming practices that disrupt their nesting grounds.

Karine is the fifth woman in the competition’s 58-year history to be awarded the Grand Title prize.

The brand-new redesigned exhibition at Natural History Museum, featuring all of the winning images, will open on 14 October in London, United Kingdom.

Overall winner

Ball of male bees trying to mate with the queen
A buzzing ball of cactus bees (Diadasia rinconis) spin over the hot sand in south Texas, USA. All but one of these bees are male, and they are trying to mate with the female at the centre of this ball. After a few minutes, a victorious male flies away with the female in order to mate. Photo by Karine Aigner/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Underwater category

Sea star releasing sperm in water
This is a male Leiaster leachi starfish releasing streams of sperm into the water, at Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. Other nearby sea stars were broadcasting sperm and eggs into the water at the same time, though the they were not within visual distance of one another. Over the course of an hour or more, the sea star swayed and twirled as it released its sperm. Photo by Tony Wu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - 10 years and under category

Alpine ibex fight in mountain range
Two ibex clash horns and trade blows while standing on their hind legs, at Pian della Mussa, Piedmont, Italy. In the early 1800s, following centuries of hunting, fewer than 100 Alpine ibex survived in the mountains on the Italian and French border. Successful conservation measures have seen those numbers recover. Photo by Ekaterina Bee/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Photojournalism category

mountain gorilla in the arms of human caregiver
An orphan mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) called Ndakasi is seen in her final moments in the arms of her Congolese caregiver of 13 years, Andre Bauma. Ndakasi was first introduced to rangers at the wildlife park at Virunga, Democratic Republic of Congo, during a heavy downpour in the park’s rainforest. Photo by Brent Stirton/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Mammal behaviour category

Snow leopard charges ibex
From a vantage point across the ravine, we can see a snow leopard (Panthera uncia) chasing a herd of Himalayan ibex towards a steep edge of the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, India. Snow leopards live in some of the most extreme habitats in the world, and are classed as a vulnerable species. Threats include climate change, mining, and hunting of both the snow leopards and their prey. Photo by Anand Nambiar/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Animal portraits category

Bird with feathers in his face
A male Canary Islands houbara (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae) performs his impressive courtship display. Raising the plumes from the front of his neck and throwing its head back, it will run forward before circling back, resting for just a few seconds before starting again. Photographed at La Oliva, Fuerteventura, Spain. Photo by José Juan Hernández Martinez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Oceans: The bigger picture category

Tohorā whales swim underwater
Female tohorā, or southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), is seen mating with a male at Deas Head, Auckland Islands, New Zealand. There is no aggression between males during these congregations. Photo by Richard Robinson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Amphibians and reptiles behaviour category

snake with bat in its mouth
A Yucatan rat snake (Pseudelaphe phaescens) poking out of a crack, having just snatched its bat prey in mid-air, at Quintana Roo, Mexico. Every evening at sundown in the Cave of the Hanging Snakes, thousands of bats leave for the night’s feeding, and some end up as food for hungry serpents. Photo by Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Plants and fungi category

Morels with waterfall behind
A group of morels, a type of edible sac fungi, are seen on Mount Olympus, Pieria, Greece. Morels are regarded as gastronomic treasures in many parts of the world because they are difficult to cultivate, yet in some forests they flourish naturally. Photo by Agorastos Papatsanis/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Animals in their environment category

bear looks across landscape
A spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) looks across the landscape of Peñas Blancas, Quito, Ecuador. These bears, found from western Venezuela to Bolivia, have suffered massive declines as the result of habitat fragmentation and loss. Around the world, as humans continue to build and farm, space for wildlife is increasingly reduced. Photo by Daniel Mideros/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

More images from Science Focus:

Winner - Natural artistry category

flamingos reflected on horizon
A preening group of Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) reflected in the salt pans of Salar de Uyuni, high in the Andes mountains. This is the world’s largest salt pan, and also home to one of Bolivia’s largest lithium mines. Photo by Junji Takasago/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Bird behaviour category

bird with ear to ground
A young grey-breasted wood wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) is seen foraging and pressing its ear to the ground to listen for small insects, at Tatamá National Park, Risaralda, Colombia. This prey-detecting technique is used by other birds, including the Eurasian blackbird. Grey-breasted wood wrens are ground-dwelling birds, often heard but not seen. They broadcast loud, melodious songs and rasping calls while hidden in the undergrowth. Photo by Nick Kanakis/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner - Wetlands: The bigger picture category

Aerial image of a lake growing green
An aerial image shows contamination on Lake Amatitlán, Guatemala. The lake takes in around 75,000 tonnes of waste from Guatemala City every year. Cyanobacteria flourishes in the presence of pollutants such as sewage and agricultural fertilisers, forming algal blooms in the water. Efforts to restore the Amatitlán wetland are underway but have been hampered by a lack of funding. Photo by Daniel Núñez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Take a look at previous winners:



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