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Press release

First taste of nature's best images

Unveiling the highly commended images from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005

Exhibition open to the public: 22 October 2005 - 23 April 2006

An orang-utan feasting on exotic fruit, a humpback whale leaping from the waves, a tropical waterfall in a mossy glade, macaques picking their way through the snow - just a few of the highly commended images announced today in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year. These diverse images were selected from more than 16,500 entries in the world's largest and most prestigious wildlife photographic competition.

The highly commended images will join the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which displays all 84 winning photographs from the 2005 competition. The exhibition opens to visitors in London at the Natural History Museum on Saturday 22 October 2005 and runs until 23 April 2006. It will then tour the country and across five continents.

'This is an exciting first glimpse of the best photographs from this year's competition,' said Deborah Sage, Competition Manager. 'Captured through photographers' artistry and dedication, the winning images celebrate the beauty of nature and remind us that we are its guardians.'

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 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, organised by the by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, is the most successful event of its kind. It is open to both amateur and professional photographers. This year a panel of wildlife and photography experts scrutinised entries from over 55 countries for their composition and originality.

The competition showcases the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, displaying the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth and inspiring people to care for its future. It also aims to show the artistry involved in wildlife photography and encourage a new generation of photographers to produce visionary and evocative interpretations of nature.

An exclusive selection of highly commended pictures will be previewed in the October issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine. All the winning and commended images will also be published by the BBC in a commemorative book, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 15, priced £25, available from the Museum Shop, through BBC Wildlife Magazine, bbcshop.com and all good retailers.

Ends

Notes for editors
The Natural History Museum (co-organiser and exhibition venue) and BBC Wildlife Magazine
 (co-organiser) must be mentioned in all editorial pieces.

The two overall winning titles, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, are selected from the category winners.

The 12 adult entry categories are:
 Animals in Their Environment, Animal Behaviour: Birds, Animal Behaviour: Mammals, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals, Animal Portraits, In Praise of Plants, Composition and Form, Nature in Black and White, Urban and Garden Wildlife, Wild Places, The Underwater World and The World in Our Hands.

The three special awards are:
the Innovation Award - given for the image that best illustrates originality of both composition and execution; the Eric Hosking Award - given for the best portfolio of six images taken by a photographer in the age range 18-26; the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife - given for the best image of a species officially listed in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is open to photographers aged 17 years and under, in three age categories: 10 years and under, 11-14 years and 15-17 years.

Microsoft Corporation is the digital technology sponsor for the competition.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 judges are:
 Frances Abraham, picture researcher; Simon Bishop, art editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine; Lewis Blackwell, group creative director of Getty Images; Mark Carwardine, writer, photographer and radio presenter; Ceri Crump, picture editor BBC Wildlife Magazine; Laura Goodchild, picture researcher; Rob Jordan, wildlife photographer; Rosamund Kidman Cox, editor and writer; John Norris Wood, wildlife photographer; Tim Parmenter, special projects officer in the Natural History Museum's Photographic Unit; Kevin Schafer, wildlife photographer; Jan Töve, nature and landscape photographer; Vickie Walters, picture researcher; Art Wolfe - wildlife photographer.

A range of merchandise will be on sale from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year website (www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto), the Natural History Museum from 22 October and selected retail outlets throughout the UK from the end of October 2005.

For more information about Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 15, published by the BBC, please contact Sharon Benjamin on + 44 (0) 208 433 2988 or email sharon.benjamin@bbc.co.uk .

Winner of the 2004 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.

Visitor information:
Dates: Saturday 22 October 2005 - Sunday 23 April 2006
Tickets: £6, £3.50 concessions, £15 family (up to five, minimum one adult), FREE to under 5s
Joint evening tickets with Diamonds: £12, £8 concessions, £30 family (up to five, minimum one adult), FREE to under 5s. Tickets are available on Fridays from 18.00 until 20.50.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 10.00-17.50, Friday 10.00-20.50, Saturday 10. 00-17.50,
Sunday 11.00-17.50
Visitor enquiries: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Museum website: www.nhm.ac.uk
Competition website: www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto

BBC Wildlife Magazine reader information:
BBC Wildlife Magazine publishes a sneak preview of the year's commended shots in the October issue and a glossy portfolio supplement of all the year's winners and runners-up in the November issue.
The magazine is available from all good newsagents, by subscription or through its online shop at www.bbcwildlifemagazine.com/bookshop.asp
Email: wildlife@galleon.co.uk
Magazine enquiries: 0117 927 9009
BBC Wildlife Magazine website: www.bbcwildlifemagazine.com