March 30, 2023

Thousands of photos highlighting the breadth of the planet’s wildlife flood the British Natural History Museum every year for a shot at winning Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

A magazine started the competition in 1965, according to the Natural History Museum’s website, with little more than a few hundred submissions. The magazine, which later became BBC Wildlife, hoped to promote the budding field of wildlife photography, according to the museum website. 

The Natural History Museum became involved in the 1980s and helped launch an international exhibition showcasing the submitted work, according to its website.

“Whether they highlight the abuse of animals in places where the public might expect them to be protected … or subtly comment on the impact of humans on the natural world,” the museum website reads. “The photojournalism images entered into the competition are often thought-provoking and moving, and they can also be vital for conservation efforts.”  

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This year’s top submissions, released ahead of the award ceremonies next month, include riveting images of fish, sloths and polar bears coping in one way or another with the changing conditions around them.

Christian Ziegler records this unusual sight of a young male bonobo gently holding a mongoose pup, deep in the rainforest near Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Photographer Brandon Güell documented a rare breeding frenzy of frogs in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, by wading chest-deep into mosquito-infested, murky water where a gathering of male gliding treefrogs were calling.
Britta Jaschinski uses torchlight to highlight the impact of coltan mining at the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change in Hamburg, Germany. Here, coltan is surrounded with mining tools and the remains of animals impacted by the industry.
When Dmitry Kokh’s boat approached the small island of Kolyuchin, in the Russian High Arctic, which had been abandoned by humans since 1992, he was surprised to spot movement in one of the houses. Binoculars revealed polar bears – over 20 in total – exploring the ghost town.
Heikki Nikki witnesses two dippers fighting over prime position. After years of visiting the river, Heikki knew every ‘dipping’ rock favored by white-throated dippers.
Jasper Doest provides a portrait of Lubinda Lubinda and his new house (right) – revealing the impact of drought on the Zambezi flood plain. Climate change and deforestation mean the Barotse people of the floodplain are subject to more frequent droughts.
Jo-Anne McArthur shows American mink kits fighting for space in a small cage on a Swedish fur farm. Due to legislation changes since this photo was taken, farms now have slightly larger cages, but the standard of life remains poor.
Keeping his camera steady in the moving vehicle, Jose Fragozo followed the giraffe. Dwarfed by the giant pillars of Kenya’s new Standard Gauge Railway, the grey blocks contrast with the unmistakable pattern of nature’s tallest land mammal.
Joshua Cox frames a red deer stag standing majestically as the snow falls in Richmond Park.
Morgan Heim reveals an intimate encounter between a beetle and a rabbit. Morgan set up camera traps by the active burrows of pygmy rabbits in the Columbia Basin to observe their comings and goings.
Richard Robinson becomes the object of fascination for a young whale. With the whale investigating him, Richard’s main challenge was to swim far enough from the curious calf to photograph it.
Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) in Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia. This octopus is one of the ocean’s most resourceful animals. It can create mobile homes with coconut shells and other shells and can carry them around while “walking” on two of its arms.
Suzi Eszterhas captures an encounter between a sloth and a dog. The brown-throated sloth had already made it across a road, but to reach the next clump of trees it needed to return to the ground and crawl in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Srikanth Mannepuri takes a sobering look at the scale of unsustainable fishing. Srikanth was shocked to see so many recently caught marlin and sailfish in a single place in one morning.
Tiina Törmänen floats through sheets of cloud-like algae in search of fish. Tiina was thrilled to meet a school of inquisitive European perch on her annual lake snorkel.

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