Tale of two foxes by Don Gutoski

Tale of two foxes. A red fox preys on an Arctic fox in this year's winning photograph. © Don Gutoski

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015-16: The winners

This year’s winning photographs capture the ferocity and spectacle of the natural world.

Red foxes don’t usually prey on Arctic foxes, but this can happen occasionally due to their overlapping hunting territories, as captured in this year's winning photograph by Don Gutoski. In this instance, the red fox chased the small Arctic fox, killed it in the snow and fed on the carcass for three hours. It then dragged away the remains to store for later. The photograph was taken in Wapusk National Park, near Cape Churchill in Canada.

Both species usually hunt small rodents, such as lemmings, but where their territories overlap the red fox has been observed preying on Arctic foxes and competing with them for food. As rising temperatures in the Arctic allow the red fox to move north and cross paths with the Arctic fox, conflicts between the two are likely to become more common. 

A male ruff attacks another male invading his territory in this photograph by Ondrej Pelánek, winner of the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015-16.

Fighting ruffs. Two male ruffs fight for territory and the attention of females. © Ondrej Pelánek 

In mating season, male ruffs stake out small display arenas in open grassy areas, where they present themselves to females and defend against other males.

Males puff up their ruffs and boost their head tufts to court females and maintain dominant status in the group. Up to 20 males may cluster in the same area, called lek, each arena measuring about one metre across.

In this shot, taken on the Varanger Peninsula in Norway, a male lunges forward with its wings fluttering, keeping another male from entering its arena.

With the females nestled on the ground around them, the two males scuffle in silence for their attention. The scene took place just after midnight during the Arctic summer, and the ruffs’ display continued all night long.