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Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols was named the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his arresting black-and-white image of a pride of resting lions.
Nine-year-old Carlos Perez Naval took the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize for his shot of a scorpion soaking up the Sun’s rays.
Jim Brandenburg, chair of the judging panel and an acclaimed wildlife photographer himself, said of the overall winning picture: 'Nick’s image encapsulated so many elements that demonstrated artistic and technical skill'.
The photograph beat more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries to the grand title award in the competition’s 50th year.
Nichols followed a pride of lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park for nearly six months, until they were used to his presence. His shot shows the five females of the Vumbi pride resting with their cubs, shortly after driving off one of the group’s males.
Nichols describes the pride’s female lions as 'a formidable and spectacularly co-operative team'. The image is taken in infrared, which Nichols explains 'transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost'.
Carlos Perez Naval, who was eight at the time, risked a sunbathing scorpion’s ire by interrupting it as it basked in the late afternoon Sun near Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain.
Naval snapped the scorpion with its sting up in his first attempt at a double-exposure photograph, and captured a winner.
The awards were presented by Museum Patron the Duchess of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, wildlife broadcaster Liz Bonnin, renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting.
The awards ceremony marks one of the Duchess’s first public appearances since she announced her pregnancy in September.
Sir Attenborough presented the first Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 1965. Speaking at this year's awards, he said: ‘I remember the very first one. It was a great occasion but it’s marvellous to see what it’s grown into. It is a true privilege to be here after 50 years of these wonderful competitions’.
For the 50th anniversary, a new category, the People's Choice award, was introduced. The winner was decided by an international public vote. The award went to Marsel van Oosten for his picture of a Japanese macaque examining his prize after snatching a tourist's mobile phone.