From the mighty lion toying with its prey to the baby polar bear hitching a ride on its mother's back: Incredible images from wildlife photographers capture breathtaking moments in the animal kingdom

From the mighty lion toying with its prey to the baby polar bear hitching a ride on its mother’s back: Incredible images from wildlife photographers capture breathtaking moments in the animal kingdom

From the comforting grip of a mother’s love to the deathly grasp of the mighty lion, these incredible images capture the heartwarming and sometimes fierce beauty of nature.

Bringing together some of the most incredible images from all the world, the new collection features the African lion caught in a ‘stare of death’ with a wildebeast, toying with the small creature caught shortly after it was born.

Another shows a Japanese macaque monkey cradling its sleeping child’s head in her hand in a contrasting image showing the more tender side of nature.

Penguin chicks can be seen huddling together to stay warm as they are blasted by a storm in Antarctica in another tender moment captured in pictures to be showcased at the Natural History Museum.

The pictures have been collected as part of the People’s Choice awards, which the public can vote for and will be on display at the museum until the vote closes on 10 January 2017.

There were nearly 50,000 submissions from 95 countries and the prestigious competition is famous for capturing the most breathtaking sights in nature, rarely seen by the human eye.

The winner of the 25 photos submitted for the People’s Choice award will go on display in the museum until September 2017, when the exhibition closes.

To vote for your favourite image, follow the link here.

The stare of death (Johan Kloppers, South Africa): Johan saw this little wildebeest shortly after it was born in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. Little did he know that he would witness its death later that same day – the small herd of wildebeest walked right past a pride of lions and the calf was caught by a lioness and then taken by this male lion

Hitching a ride (Daisy Gilardini, Switzerland): This female polar bear was resting with its two young cubs in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada, when it suddenly got up and rushed downhill through the deep snow. One of the cubs jumped on to her, holding onto her furry backside with a firm bite – totally unexpected and humorous behaviour

The stand-off (Michael Lambie, Canada): It was breeding season and all the male turkeys were putting on a show for the females, but a number of birds seemed a little confused. This one was more concerned with the potential suitor in front of it, not realising it was its own reflection

Facing the storm (Gunther Riehle, Germany): Gunther arrived at the frozen sea ice in Antarctica in sunshine, but by the evening a storm picked up. Initially just strong winds, by the early morning snow had arrived. He concentrated on taking images of the emperor penguin chicks huddled together to shield themselves from the force of the snowstorm

Opportunistic croc (Bence Máté, Hungary): Although this shot was taken from a safe hide, Bence recalls that it was chilling to see the frightening, killing eyes of this four-metre-long Nile crocodile. This individual was baited with natural carcasses on an island in the Zimanga Private Game Reserve, South Africa, but crocs also come here to bask in the Sun

Monkey ball (Thomas Kokta, Germany): Cold temperatures on Shodoshima Island, Japan, sometimes lead to monkey balls, where a group of five or more snow monkeys huddle together to keep warm. Thomas observed a large group exhibiting this behaviour close to a tree, giving him the vantage point he needed. A few days and a tree climb later he got the image he desired

Head-on (Tapio Kaisla, Finland): Tapio took a trip to Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjell National Park, Norway, to find these magnificent oxen amid their natural habitat. Even though spring is not rutting season for these animals, they were already seriously testing their strength against each other and the air rang out with the loud bang of the head-on collision between these two beasts

Into the fray (Stephen Belcher, New Zealand): Stephen spent a week photographing golden snub-nosed monkeys in a valley in the Zhouzhi Nature Reserve in the Qinling Mountains, China. The monkeys have very thick fur, which they need to withstand the freezing nights in winter. This image shows two males about to fight, one already up on a rock, the other bounding in with a young male

The couple (Sergio Sarta, Italy): During a dive off the coast of Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, Sergio was finning across a volcanic, dark grey, sandy seabed when suddenly, he saw a bright-coloured organism – a fire urchin with an elegant couple of little Coleman shrimps. The fire urchin has quills that are very toxic to humans – the shrimps avoid this danger by seeking out safe areas between the quills

Jelly starburst (Andrea Marshall, USA): Andrea was snorkeling off the coast of Mozambique when she came across hundreds of large jelly fish. Many were covered with brittle stars – opportunistic riders, taking advantage of this transport system to disperse along the coast. Delicate lighting makes the jelly glow, so the viewer can focus on the subtle colours and textures

A mother’s hand (Alain Mafart Renodier, France): Alain was on a wintertime visit to Japan’s Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park when he took this poignant photograph of a sleeping baby Japanese macaque, its mother’s hand covering its head protectively

Eye contact (Guy Edwardes, UK): The Dalmatian pelican, seen here on Lake Kerkini, Greece, is the largest species of pelican in the world. It is native to eastern Europe, Russia and Asia, however, its population is currently threatened in some areas from hunting, water pollution and habitat loss, particularly a decline in wetlands

Colorado red (Annie Katz, USA): It was a crisp, clear day in January when Annie saw this Colorado red fox hunting in her neighbour’s field in Aspen, Colorado, USA. The light was perfect and she took the photo as the fox approached her, looking right into the lens of her camera

Sisters: The photographer encountered a large lion pride at a waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. One of the two males spray-marked the branches of a nearby tree. Later two females sniffed the markings and for a brief moment both adopted the same posture. Bernd Wasiolka, Germany

Confusion (Rudi Hulshof, South Africa): Rudi wanted to capture the uncertainty of the future of the southern white rhino in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, South Africa, because of poaching. He anticipated the moment when these two rhinos would walk past each other, creating this silhouette effect and the illusion of a two-headed rhino

Eye in focus (Ally McDowell, USA/UK): Ally often focuses on colours and patterns underwater. She nearly threw away an image of a fish’s eye but her partner asked to see it and then turned it upside down. It was then that Ally saw it was an unusual, abstract view, and so on a night dive, when the parrotfish were still and sleeping, she focused on creating a similar image


Spiral (Marco Gargiulo, Italy): Sabella spallanzanii is a species of marine polychaete, also known as a bristle worm. The worm secretes mucus that hardens to form a stiff, sandy tube that protrudes from the sand. It has two layers of feeding tentacles that can be retracted into the tube, and one of the layers forms a distinct spiral

Into the night (Karine Aigner, USA): During the summer months, 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats arrive at Bracken Cave in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to give birth and raise their young. Each evening at dusk, the hungry mothers emerge into the night in a vortex, circling out through the entrance and rising into the sky to feed on insects

The blue trail (Mario Cea, Spain, left): The kingfisher frequented this natural pond every day, and Mario used a high shutter speed with artificial light to photograph it. He used several units of flash for the kingfisher and a continuous light to capture the wake as the bird dived down towards the water. Tasty Delicacy (Cristobal Serrano, Spain, right): The natural world provides countless magical moments, none more so than the delicate moment a tiny, elegant hummingbird softly inserts its slender bill into the corolla of a flower to drink nectar. Cristobal was lucky enough to capture that exact moment in Los Quetzales National Park, San José, Costa Rica

Ghostly snow geese (Gordon Illg, USA): These snow geese almost seemed like ghosts in the pink early morning light as they landed among sandhill cranes in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA. Gordon had no control over the patterns made by the landing geese, all he could do was compose the image around the cranes and keep pushing the shutter button as the geese dropped down

Caterpillar curl (Reinhold Schrank, Austria, left): Reinhold was at Lake Kerkini, Greece, taking pictures of birds, but the conditions were not ideal, so he looked for other options. He saw this caterpillar on a flower and encouraged it onto a piece of rolled dry straw. He had to work fast because the caterpillar was constantly moving. Breakfast time (Cari Hill, New Zealand): Shortly after purchasing the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, the owners learned that the only remaining Rothschild’s giraffes in the country were at risk, as their sole habitat was being subdivided into smallholdings. So they began a breeding programme to reintroduce the Rothschild’s giraffe into the wild. Today, guests can enjoy visits from resident giraffes in search of a treat


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