Photographer: Lance van de Vyver/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Photographer: Lance van de Vyver/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Pick Your Favorite Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is a world renowned platform for incredible nature photography, and 2016 is no exception. This year's prize received over 50,000 entries—both professional and amateur—from almost 100 countries. The exhibition, which begins Oct. 21, will feature the top 100 images. These are some of the most striking photos released so far.
Termite Tossing - South Africa
Termite Tossing - South Africa

Termite after termite after termite – using the tip of its massive beak-like forceps to pick them up, the hornbill would flick them in the air and then swallow them. Foraging beside a track in South Africa’s semi-arid Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the southern yellow-billed hornbill was so deeply absorbed in termite snacking that it gradually worked its way to within 6 meters (19 feet) of where Willem sat watching from his vehicle.

Photographer: Willem Kruger/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Collective Courtship - Australia
Collective Courtship - Australia

Thousands of giant cuttlefish gather each winter in the shallow waters of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf for their once-in-a-lifetime spawning. Males compete for territories that have the best crevices for egg‑laying and then attract females with mesmerizing displays of changing skin color, texture and pattern. Rivalry among the world’s largest cuttlefish – up to a meter (3.3 feet) long – is fierce, as males outnumber females by up to 11 to one.

Photographer: Scott Portelli/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Nosy Neighbor - U.K.
Nosy Neighbor - U.K.

Sam knew exactly who to expect when he set his camera on the wall one summer’s evening in a suburban street in Bristol, the U.K.’s famous fox city. He wanted to capture the inquisitive nature of the urban red fox in a way that would pique the curiosity of its human neighbors about the wildlife around them. This was the culmination of weeks of scouting for the ideal location – a quiet, well‑lit neighborhood, where the foxes were used to people (several residents fed them regularly) – and the right fox.

Photographer: Sam Hobson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Crystal Precision - Spain
Crystal Precision - Spain

Every night, not long after sunset, about 30 common pipistrelle bats emerge from their roost in a derelict house in Salamanca, Spain, to go hunting. Each has an appetite for up to 3,000 insects a night, which it eats on the wing. Its flight is characteristically fast and jerky, as it tunes its orientation with echolocation to detect objects in the dark. The sounds it makes – too high‑pitched for most humans to hear – create echoes that allow it to make a sonic map of its surroundings.

Photographer: Mario Cea/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Thistle-Plucker - U.K.
Thistle-Plucker - U.K.

Try keeping a flying linnet in sight while scrambling down rocky embankments holding a telephoto lens. Isaac did, for 20 minutes. He was determined to keep pace with the linnet that he spotted while hiking in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, finally catching up with the tiny bird when it settled to feed on a thistle flowerhead.

Photographer: Isaac Aylward/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Playing Pangolin - South Africa
Playing Pangolin - South Africa

Lance had tracked the pride for several hours before they stopped to rest by a waterhole, but their attention was not on drinking. The lions (in South Africa’s Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve) had discovered a Temminck’s ground pangolin. This nocturnal, ant-eating mammal is armor-plated with scales made of fused hair, and it curls up into an almost impregnable ball when threatened.

Photographer: Lance van de Vyver/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Swarming Under the Stars - Hungary
Swarming Under the Stars - Hungary

Imre was captivated by the chaotic swarming of mayflies on Hungary’s River Rába and dreamt of photographing the spectacle beneath a starlit sky. For a few days each year (at the end of July or beginning of August), vast numbers of the adult insects emerge from the Danube tributary, where they developed as larvae. On this occasion, the insects emerged just after sunset.

Photographer: Imre Potyó/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The Disappearing Fish - Spain
The Disappearing Fish - Spain

In the open ocean, there’s nowhere to hide, but the lookdown fish – a name it probably gets from the steep profile of its head, with mouth set low and large eyes high – is a master of camouflage. Recent research suggests that it uses special platelets in its skin cells to reflect polarized light (light moving in a single plane), making itself almost invisible to predators and potential prey.

Photographer: Iago Leonardo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Golden Relic - India
Golden Relic - India

With fewer than 2,500 mature adults left in the wild, in fragmented pockets of forest in northeastern India (Assam) and Bhutan, Gee’s golden langurs are endangered. Living high in the trees, they are also difficult to observe. But, on the tiny man-made island of Umananda, in Assam’s Brahmaputra River, you are guaranteed to see one.

Photographer: Dhyey Shah/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Splitting the Catch - Norway
Splitting the Catch - Norway

Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for the killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters. But in recent winters, the whales have also started to follow the boats. Here a large male killer whale feeds on herring that have been squeezed out of the boat’s closing fishing net.

Photographer: Audun Rikardsen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Blast Furnace - France
Blast Furnace - France

When the lava flow from Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island periodically enters the ocean, the sight is spectacular, but on this occasion Alexandre was in for a special treat. Kilauea (meaning ‘spewing’ or ‘much spreading’) is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in constant eruption since 1983. As red-hot lava at more than 1,000˚C (1,832˚F) flows into the sea, vast plumes of steam hiss up, condensing to produce salty, acidic mist or rain.

Photographer: Alexandre Hec/Wildlife Photographer of the Year