The hard work of wildlife photographers has been acknowledged as this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition highly commended images are released. Suspense now mounts for the announcement of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year category winners on 20 October.
The overall winner will gain the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 as their winning photograph takes centre stage in a major exhibition of award-winning images at the Natural History Museum, opening on Saturday 23 October.
Open to amateur and professional photographers this year's competition attracted over 18,500 entries from more than 50 countries. Judges selected 90 winning and commended photographs (some of the highly commended images are shown to the right), which will form the exhibition at the Natural History Museum, and tour across five continents after its London debut.
Every picture tells a story, and each image in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is captioned to reveal the tale of how and why it was taken. For most wildlife photographers, raising awareness of the threats faced by animals, plants and habitats is just as important as capturing the beauty of a moment with perfect composition and timing.
The competition's aim is to showcase the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, showing the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth and inspiring people to care for its future. At the same time, it aims to show the artistry involved in wildlife photography and encourage a new generation of photographers to produce visionary and expressive interpretations of nature.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.