A photograph of a wildflower meadow

Summer Cornfield was highly commended in the 2019 Plants and Fungi category 

© Joël Brunet

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: celebrating the variety of life on Earth

From bright coral seas teeming with life to dense jungles full of interdependent plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms, the biodiversity of our planet is incredible.

Each year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year highlights the beauty of the natural world and encourages visitors to foster a personal connection with the world around them.

Explore some of the richest habitats the planet has to offer and discover the beauty and abundance of life on Earth with this gallery of images. 

 

Bear Territory - Marc Graf

Marc Graf's beautiful portrait shows a young brown bear enjoying the sunrise over the dense forests of Notranjska Regional Park in Slovenia. 

Bear Territory was highly commended in the 2018 Animals in Their Environment category

© Marc Graf

Brown bears are cautious of humans and rely on thickly forested landscapes, where humans rarely stray, to survive. Marc had to wait 14 months for the scent to wear off his camera trap before the bears would feel comfortable approaching it.

Despite decades of deforestation and habitat loss, bear populations are slowly beginning to bounce back in Slovenia. Sadly, their habitats are fragmented and neighbouring Austria has very few bears left.

 

The Disappearing Fish - Iago Leonardo

Along the crystal-clear shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico there are few places to hide, but these lookdown fish have evolved a clever disguise. 

The Disappearing Fish was a finalist in the 2016 Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish category

© Iago Leonardo 

Covered with tiny silver scales the fish reflect the colour of the ocean around them, making them almost invisible to humans and sea creatures alike. Creating a contrast between a shoal of grunt fish and the lookdowns, Iago captures their translucence perfectly.

 

Forest Refuge - Uge Fuertes Sanz

The blooming stonecrops which bring a splash of colour to this forest landscape have adapted to grow on trees, away from the reach of the cows who graze on the forest floor. 

Forest Refuge was highly commended in the 2019 Plants and Fungi category

© Uge Fuertes Sanz

Nature photographer Uge Fuertes Sanz waited until the fog had cleared just enough to see the twisting trunks and branches of the trees in the background.

The laurel forests of Madeira are a surviving example of the ancient forests that once extended across southern Europe and northwestern Africa.

 

Windsweep - Orlando Fernandez Miranda

Known as the Skeleton Coast, this desert landscape looks as though it is devoid of life. Despite appearances, the convergence of weather systems that takes place here is vital to life inland. 

Windsweep was the winner of the Earth's Environments category in 2018

© Orlando Fernandez Miranda

Cool winds from the Benguela Current are warmed by the afternoon Sun, creating a thick fog. The moisture brought in off the ocean then spills inland and sustains many plant and insect species.

Photographer Orlando created a three-way contrast between the bright blue ocean, the sweeping sand dunes and the misty coastline in the background.

 

Tigerland – Emmanuel Rondeau

Emmanuel climbed over 700 metres and set up eight camera traps in the hope of photographing one of Bhutan's 103 wild tigers. 

Tigerland was highly commended in the 2018 Animals in Their Environment category

© Emmanuel Rondeau

His striking image shows a grown tiger marching directly towards one of his cameras within the dense jungle.

Thanks to a growing network of wildlife corridors which connect the national parks in the kingdom, tigers are making a comeback. The population has increased by almost a third since the last count in 1998.

 

Dawn of the bison – Jasper Doest

European bison were reintroduced to the Netherlands in 2007 after an extensive programme of captive-breeding and re-wilding projects which brought the species back from the brink of extinction in the wild. 

Dawn of the Bison was a finalist in the 2016 Mammals category

© Jasper Doest

Jasper found this herd cooling off in a lake surrounded by a swarm of midges. The morning Sun rose and cast a golden light over the scene, creating the perfect shot for Jason.

Bison are important players in maintaining healthy and ecologically rich forests and grasslands.

 

Rig Diver – Alex Mustard

These intelligent cormorants have adapted to living and feeding around the Eureka Oil Rig just off the coast of California, USA.

Rig Diver was a finalist in the 2016 Birds category

© Alex Mustard

Using the wide legs of the rig to hide, the cormorants have the element of surprise when they burst through a shoal of fish.

Although drilling for oil is generally considered to be detrimental to environments and the animals that inhabit them, oil rigs can also provide shelter and a rich supply of food.

 

Entwined Lives – Tim Laman

Part of Tim's photo series, Entwined Lives shows a young male orangutan climbing a 30-metre-high fruit tree in search of food. 

Entwined Lives won the Grand title in 2016

© Tim Laman

Taken in Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo, Tim's image shows one of the few remaining areas of the dense rainforest that is crucial to the survival of this endangered ape. Human demand for palm oil has driven the destruction of these habitats and forced the remaining orangutans into tiny pockets of rainforest.

This selection of images celebrates the diversity of life on our planet and the beauty of the natural world. As habitat destruction continues at a record rate, it is more important than ever to celebrate our home and foster a love for the natural world.

The Museum is closed but our work continues

Wildlife Photographer of the Year reminds us all how precious the natural world is, and inspires action to protect it. Every year, the exhibition helps millions of people to connect to some of the world's most endangered species and habitats. It encourages each of us to be an advocate for the planet.

But the Museum is a registered charity and we need your help. With our doors closed, we're losing vital income. So if you could help us with a donation – no matter the size – we'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you.