Between a polar bear cub basking in a sea of flowers, a pair of red foxes sharing an intimate nuzzle, the portrait of a pregnant male pygmy seahorse and many other breathtaking images of creatures of all shapes, sizes and colors, you have the chance to choose the winning portrait for this competition.
Rather than have them selected by a panel of jurors, the Natural History Museum of London, organizer of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year, has now placed this phase of the contest in the hands of the public.
Twenty-five amazing photographs chosen from 38,575 entries across 93 countries are now the candidates for the People’s Choice Award 2022 and you can vote online until 14.00pm (GMT) on February 2, 2023.
The shortlisted photos spotlighting important stories of nature from across the globe, such as the one above of a pair of red foxes greeting one another affectionately on a chilly day in North Shore, Prince Edward Island, Canada, can also, for the first time, be voted by the public using interactive screens at the newly-designed Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum.
“Voters will have a challenge to choose from this stunning range of photographs which tell vital stories and connect people to issues across the planet. We are looking forward to finding out which of these images emerges as the favourite,” said Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest offers a global platform for amateur and professional nature photographers.
“Using photography’s unique emotive power to engage and inspire audiences, the exhibition shines a light on stories and species around the world and supports the Museum in its mission of creating advocates for the planet,” the museum states.
Vote online for your favorite here.
Against a backdrop of the spectacular mountains of Ladakh in northern India, a snow leopard has been caught in a perfect pose by Fonseca’s carefully positioned camera trap. Thick snow blankets the ground, but the big cat’s dense coat and furry footpads keep it warm.
Fonseca captured this image during a three-year, bait-free camera-trap project high up in the Indian Himalayas. He has always been fascinated by snow leopards, not only because of their incredible stealth but also because of their remote environment, making them one of the most difficult large cats to photograph in the wild.
Contreras was lying in the mud a safe distance from a breeding colony of flamingos in Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It was June and the flamingo chicks had already left their nests and were in crèches.
These crèches are always guarded by adult birds, so when the chicks began to approach Contreras, the adults surrounded them and gently headed them back into the colony. Although flamingo population numbers are stable, they’re highly sensitive to changes in the environment, such as flooding of their nesting sites, and it’s unclear how they will cope with the effects of climate change.
It was late afternoon when Marina found Olobor resting. He’s one of the famous five-strong coalition of males in the Black Rock pride in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve.
All the ground around the lion was black, having been burnt by local Maasai herdsmen to stimulate a new flush of grass. Cano wanted to capture his majestic and defiant look against the dark background and lowered her camera to get an eye-level portrait.
Gregus watched this polar bear cub playing in a mass of fireweed flowers on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada. Occasionally, the cub would take a break from its fun, stand on its hind legs and poke its head up to look for its mother.
Wanting to capture the world from the cub’s angle, Gregus placed his camera – in an underwater housing for protection against investigating bears – at ground level among the fireweed. He then waited patiently a safe distance with a remote trigger. Not being able to see exactly what was happening, he had to judge the right moment when the bear would pop up in the camera frame.
Near Rausu port, on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, several hundred glaucous-winged gulls waited for the return of fishermen. It was the beginning of March and freezing, and the air was full of the raucous calls of the gulls overhead.
Some of the birds began to settle, keeping their eyes on the horizon. Focusing on one bird, Bes composed a minimalist portrait, highlighting the eye and the beak. The red spot on the beak develops when gulls are adult and is in part a reflection of their health.
It’s also an essential aid for the young: when chicks peck the spot, it triggers a regurgitation reaction from the parent.
This leopardess had killed a Kinda baboon in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. The baboon’s baby was still alive and clinging to its mother.
Igor watched as the predator walked calmly back to her own baby. Her cub played with the baby baboon for more than an hour before killing it, almost as if it had been given live prey as a hunting lesson.
Two females and a male golden snub-nosed monkey huddle together to keep warm in the extreme winter cold. Threatened mainly by forest loss and fragmentation, this endangered species is confined to central China.
Restricted to living high in the temperate forests, these monkeys – here in the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province – feed mostly in the trees on leaves, bark, buds and lichen.
Lu knew the area where a troop of monkeys often rested and, in heavy wind and snow, walked up the mountain for almost an hour carrying his equipment. Photographing from a slope opposite the tree in which the group was huddled, he stayed put for half an hour in temperatures of -10°C (14°F) before he was able to achieve this eye-level composition.
This male Bargibant’s seahorse, gripping tightly with his prehensile tail to a pink sea fan, looks almost ready to pop.
He will gestate for a period of approximately two weeks before giving birth to miniature live young. More had the help of a guide who knew where off the coast of Bali and on which sea to find these pigmy seahorses. This individual was one of three on the same sea-fan.
Bargibant’s seahorses are barely visible due to their tiny size (1–2 centimetres tall – ¼ to ¾ inch) and tend to stay very still. Their ability to mimic their host’s colours and knobby texture is only revealed in detail under high magnification.
The spectacle of two female muskoxen attacking each other surprised Illana. For four days, he had been following a muskox family in Norway’s Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park – a male, a female and three calves.
On a beautiful high plateau, another similar-sized family of muskox appeared. Expecting a male head-to-head — it was September and the females were in heat — he was disappointed when the two males came to an immediate understanding and the weaker one backed off. It was then that the two females began their short but intense fight, the action of which he caught on camera.
Sveinsson was snowshoeing deep in the forests of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to find some winter wildlife to photograph. Frozen, she reluctantly headed home. Only then did something catch her eye – a snowshoe hare resting, surrounded by clean, white snow. It seemed to be sleeping.
Sveinsson waited. Finally, the hare sensed something, turned its ears forward and looked right at the camera.
The calls of the male Mindo glass frogs could be heard all around this female, who was sitting quietly on a leaf. These frogs are confident around humans, and if the photographer doesn’t disturb them, equipment can be set up nearby.
Culebras thought this frog had the most beautiful ‘ruby’ eyes, so he carefully moved his camera, tripod and flashes to be close enough to capture a portrait that would highlight them.
Only found in northwest Ecuador, in the Río Manduriacu Reserve in the foothills of the Andes, these frogs are endangered by habitat loss associated with mining and logging.
The unusually clear, flat sea in Monterey Bay, California, provided a beautiful turquoise backdrop for the glossy bodies of three northern right whale dolphins.
But it was only thanks to a thoughtful stranger that Frediani got her special shot of two adult heads and the silvery tail of a juvenile. Seeing her interest and camera, the young stranger gave up her place at the bow of the boat below which the dolphins were enjoying riding the bow wave.
These dolphins are atypical in appearance, with short, pointy beaks, sloping foreheads and no dorsal fins. They are quick and extremely athletic, often flying high out of the water in graceful leaps.
The frenzied combat between the pompilid wasp and the ornate Ctenus spider suddenly stopped. An intense calm invaded the scene, said Garcia-Roa, who had been watching the battle unfold in the Peruvian jungle of Tambopata.
The image shows the wasp checking the spider to confirm if its sting has paralyzed the dangerous prey before dragging it back to its brood nest. Wasps of the Pompilidae family are called spider wasps because the females specialize in hunting spiders, which are used as living food for their offspring.
Michlewicz had noticed many animals visiting this abandoned barn in Radolinek, a small village in western Poland, probably following the scent of rodent prey.
With the use of his trail cam, he logged a badger, a fox and a marten, but also considerable cat activity. Setting up a camera trap just inside the barn, facing the entrance, he waited to see what would trigger it.
Luckily, though not for this chaffinch, a domestic cat arrived with its fresh kill. Michlewicz is keen his image is used to illustrate the impact domestic cats can have on a local ecosystem.
In the vicinity of a rest camp in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Flack discovered a flock of crested guineafowl that were not as flighty as normal and allowed him to follow them as they foraged.
One of the guineafowl started to scratch another’s head and ear, and the recipient stood there motionless for a few moments with its mouth open and eyes wide, as if to say ‘that’s the spot, keep going’. Flack muses that “it’s not often you get to capture emotion in the faces of birds . . . but there was no doubt – that was one satisfied guineafowl!’
While out in his dinghy looking for black bears, Gregory spotted this female grey wolf trotting along the shoreline on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
He then set up his remote camera. The wolf was patrolling her eel-grass-covered mudflat territory at low tide, and walked right past the camera, allowing Bertie to take this shot with the remote trigger. Sadly, this Vancouver Island wolf was later killed by a man who claimed to be protecting people’s pets.
Fernandez set out to highlight the plight of the endangered American eel.
Caught in its juvenile stage, as glass eels, it’s exported by the millions each year to fulfill an insatiable Asian, particularly Japanese, demand.
On the coast of the Dominican Republic, over five months hundreds of fishermen gather around the estuaries from dawn to dusk to catch the little eels. These larvae have migrated from the Sargasso Sea, where the adult eels spawn. With the species in steep decline, the U.S. fishery is now tightly controlled, leaving the Caribbean to take over as the major exporter, but without regulations.
The image took Fernandez many nights of trial and error, using a long exposure to catch the precise moment that the fishermen raised their nets out of the incoming waves.
Spotted hyenas are intelligent and opportunistic animals. On the outskirts of cities such as Harar in Ethiopia, they take advantage of what humans leave behind, including bones and rotting meat.
In so doing, the hyenas keep disease at bay, and in exchange the Harar locals tolerate them, even leaving them butcher’s scraps. These hyenas are from the family group known as the Highway Clan.
To photograph them, Sam set up a remote camera by a roadkill carcass. He captured the lowest-ranking member of the clan after the dominant members, visible in the background, had sauntered off.
Walking down a street in his hometown of Corella in northern Spain, Mendizabal came across a wall with a grafitti cat, complete with shadow.
Knowing that common wall geckos emerge on hot summer nights to look for mosquitoes and other insects, Mendizabal came back with his camera and waited patiently for the perfect picture – the hunter becoming prey to the trompe l’oeil cat.
Before this image was captured, Kennerknecht and his biologist friend, David Mills, were almost trampled by a charging forest elephant in the dense rainforest of Kibale National Park in Uganda.
Returning to the same area, they set up a camera trap with the goal of photographing the rare and elusive African golden cat.
About twice the size of a domestic cat, it’s one of the world’s least-studied felids. To date, there are still less than five high-resolution photographs of this cat in the wild.
Withyman wanted this photograph to raise awareness of the harm humans can inadvertently cause to wildlife.
In the English city of Bristol, a young red fox sustained a serious injury trying to free herself from plastic barrier netting commonly used as fencing on building sites. The remains were still embedded in her body when this image was taken, hindering her ability to hunt.
Local residents left out food for the vixen – here, a chicken leg. After five months, she was caught, treated and released. But tragically, six months later, she was hit by a car and died.
Hanging in a shed, this stuffed cat skin may at first appear as inconsequential as the other objectss. But the colorful yarns tied to it reveal it’s not merely a disused item.
The relationship between the Andean cat and its human neighbors is complex. Though the cats are celebrated as mountain guardians, they’re also considered good luck for the fertility of livestock. For this, they’re killed and sometimes worn during ceremonies to trigger an abundant year.
This stuffed specimen turned out to be the closest Kennerknecht would come to South America’s most endangered wild cat.
It was late in the evening in August, and the air had a magical feel when Vartiainen spotted this badger close to its sett in a forest near Helsinki, Finland. He watched it for 45 minutes.
The badger didn’t seem to be perturbed, even though Vartiainen was only about 7 metres (23 feet) away. It sniffed the air, lay on the ground and scratched or walked a short distance away, and a few times went into its sett, always turning to look back in the photographer’s direction. Finally, when it was virtually dark, the badger headed into the night in search of food.
A young perch was found trapped in the thumb of this surgical glove discarded in a canal in The Netherlands. Since the onslaught of Covid-19, gloves and face masks litter land and sea. This perch was found by citizen scientists on a weekly canal clean-up in Leiden.
The spines on its back prevented the fish from escaping by backing out – the torn thumb probably the sign of its final struggle. The glove formed the basis of a scientific study that has documented the range of animals impacted by Covid-19 waste during the pandemic. In this case, the material that helped protect people has proved to be a danger to wildlife.