Every year, the Natural History Museum awards several prizes in wildlife photography: elephants, dugogns, gavials, mushrooms, mice and many, many more were captured on film by extremely talented photographers of all ages. Here are just a few of the best pictures and their stories.
Wildlife photographer of the year 2013 and animal portraits winner: Essence of Elephants by Greg du Toit (South Africa). Ever since he’s picked up a camera, Du Toit has photographed African elephants. ‘For many years I’ve wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that I sense when I’m with them. This image comes closest to doing that.’
The Gerald Durrell award for endangered species: Diana Rebman, US: ‘What made all the physical effort worth it was to see the mother with her two babies.’ Twins are very rare in mountain gorrilas.
Young wildlife photographer of the year 2013 Winner: Mother’s Little Headful by Udayan Rao Pawar (India). Udayan camped near a nesting colony of gharial crocodiles on the banks of the Chambal River – two groups of them, each with more than 100 hatchlings.
Douglas Seifert, US: A dugong feeding in the bay of Marsa Alam, while divers and snorkelers crowd to see it. It’s an extremely rare sight, as only seven known dugons live within the 100 km coastline.
Even a king bows down sometime: -Boy, a black-maned male lion, and his coalition partner, Hildur, once controlled a superior territory in Tanzania’s Serengeti national park, but they were deposed by a squad of four males known to researchers as the Killers. Nick came across C-boy and Hildur hunkered down in the rain: ‘I had never before seen these two senior coalition males together’, said photographer Michael Nichols.
Łukasz Bożycki, Poland took this stunning photography of amphibians at the icy water level.
Solvin Zankl, Germany: Breeding ponds in Solling, western Germany. ‘To me the toadspawn looks like threaded black pearls neatly arranged in the scenery’
Life is a struggle, almost certainly a violent one if you’re a wild feline. Joe McDonald (US) took this picture, after witnessing the noisy sounds of courtship and mating.
The Water Bear by Paul Souders (US) The fact that most images of polar bears show them on land or ice says more about the practical difficulties faced by humans than it does about the bears’ behaviour. With adaptations such as thick blubber and nostrils that close, polar bears are in highly aquatic, spending lots of time in the water, being capable of swimming for hours at a time. Souders took his Zodiac boat to Hudson Bay, Canada, in midsummer to rectify this bias. He scouted for three days before he spotted a bear, this young female, on sea ice about 30 miles offshore. The light was special but for a sinister reason. The midnight sun was filtered through smoke from forest fires raging farther south, a symptom of the warming Arctic – the greatest threat facing the polar bear. If current trends continue, polar bears face an almost certain extinction due to warming temperatures.
Dive, buddy, dive! Picture by by Luis Javier Sandoval
Snow Moment by Jasper Doest (The Netherlands) When photographing the famous Japanese macaques around the hot springs of Jigokudani, central Japan, Doest had become fascinated by the surreal effects created by the arrival of a cold wind.
The Cauldron by Sergey Gorshkov (Russia) – Plosky Tolbachik – one of two volcanoes in the Tolbachik volcanic plateau in central Kamchatka, Russia.
The Flight Path by Connor Stefanison
Lucky Pounce by Connor Stefanison (Canada)
arcos Sobral, Portugal: Varanasi in northern India where rhesus macaques have adapted to living alongside people, even inhabiting temples, where locals feed them as a form of worship.
Agorastos Papatsanis, Greece: a differnent, surreal world. The taller of these two mushrooms is 30 cm tall.
Etienne Francey (under 17), Switzerland: Near Cousset, in Switzerland