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A tender moment between two male lions has won this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice Award.
David Lloyd's image, Bond of Brothers, saw off competition from 24 other photographs to top the public vote after 16,000 nature fans had their say.
The two adult males, likely brothers, rubbed faces for around 30 seconds before settling down. It is unusual behaviour for lions to nuzzle for so long, so David felt privileged to experience this moment and have the opportunity to share it with the world.
The LUMIX People's Choice Award recognises outstanding entries to Wildlife Photographer of the Year, as voted by the public. The shortlist of 25 images of the natural world was selected by the Museum from over 45,000 entries submitted for the 2018 competition.
David says, 'I'm so pleased that this image did well, because it illustrates the emotion and feeling of animals and emphasises that this is not limited to humans. It is something I think more people need to be aware of for the sake of all animals.'
Director of the Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, says, 'Lions are individuals with complex social bonds, and David's winning picture provides a glimpse into their inner world. I hope the empathy and wonder garnered by this image will inspire more people to take action to protect nature.'
Mike Owen, Professional Imaging Marketing Manager from Panasonic UK, adds, 'It is a great honour to be involved in the LUMIX People's Choice Awards and to be able to champion the image that resonates most with the public.
'David's image shows a heart-warming connection between two animals that are usually perceived as hunters and fighters. Congratulations to David for capturing this striking image.'
Four Highly Commended images won the hearts of the public and round off the top five.
These include Matthew Maran's photograph of a red fox mirroring street art in London, and Justin Hofman's heartbreaking image of a starving polar bear in the Canadian Arctic.
Hungarian photographer Bence Máté also features with a picture of three painted wolves playing with the leg of an impala, as does Wim Van Den Heever with a sublime shot of three king penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands.
All five images will be displayed at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Museum until it closes on 30 June 2019.