A prestigious competition has shone a light on some of the world’s most spectacular nature photography.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, hosted by the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, was won by Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols.
The American’s black-and-white shot of lions resting with their cubs at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, impressed judges.
He beat more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries to land the top prize.
Jim Brandenburg, chair of the judging panel, said: “Nick’s image encapsulated so many elements that demonstrated artistic and technical skill, the sort that takes many years of professional work to hone and craft as he has done.”
From the powerful to the weak: Bruno D’Amicis’ picture – this article’s main image – shows a teenager trying to sell a three-month-old fennec fox in Tunisia. It was one of a litter of pups dug out of a den in the Sahara Desert. Catching or killing wild fennec foxes is illegal in Tunisia but widespread, which Bruno discovered as part of a long-term project to investigate the issues facing endangered species in the Sahara.
The competition was not only restricted to wildlife. Francisco Negroni from Chile won the Earth’s Environment category with an apocalyptic picture of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano erupting, combined with storm.
The picture caption explained: “From his viewpoint – a hill quite a distance to the west of the volcano – he watched, awestruck, as flashes of lightning lacerated the sky and the glow from the molten lava lit up the smoke billowing upwards and illuminated the landscape. Volcanic lightning is a rare, short‑lived phenomenon probably caused by the static electrical charges resulting from the crashing together of fragments of red‑hot rock, ash and vapour high in the volcanic plume.”
Young photographers were also recognised, including Carlos Perez Naval, 8, who captured a scorpion flourishing its sting near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, north-east Spain.
The winners were announced at a NHM ceremony and presented by, among others, the Duchess of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough.
Sir David said: “It’s the fiftieth birthday, 50 years of remarkable competitions, I remember the very first one …it was a great occasion but it’s marvellous to see what it’s grown into… It is a true privilege to be here after 50 years of these wonderful competitions.”
Images from the contest will be exhibited at the NHM from October 24 until August 30 next year.
The competition, now in its 50th year, is run jointly by the NHM and BBC Worldwide.