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2019 Wildlife Photographer Competition: The Stories Behind The Best Shots

The annual photography exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum in London on November 18. Nearly 50,000 entries from professional and amateur photographers were submitted this year and 100 will be on display. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Natural History Museum's Hintze Hall on October 15th. Nature at its best. 

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  • 1

    An ever-adaptable raccoon pokes her bandit-masked face out of a 1970s Ford Pinto on a deserted farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.

    Land vehicle
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    In the back seat, her five playful kits trill with excitement. On this evening, she paused at the exit to check the surroundings before squeezing out to spend the night looking for food. (Urban wildlife category). (Photo by Jason Bantle)


  • 2

    A newborn hippo was keeping close to its mother in the shallows of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, when a large bull made a beeline for them.

    Vertebrate
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    He chased the mother, then seized the calf in his huge gape, clearly intent on killing it. All the while, the distraught mother looked on. Infanticide among hippos is rare but may result from the stress caused through overcrowding when their day-resting pools dry out. (Behaviour: Mammals category). (Photo by Adrian Hirschi)


  • 3

    A gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water.

    Penguin
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    Leopard seals are formidable predators. Females can be 3.5 metres long and weigh more than 500 kilograms, males slightly less. Their slender bodies are built for speed, with wide jaws bearing long canines and sharply pointed molars. (Behaviour: mammals category). (Photo by Eduardo Del Álamo)


  • 4

    A lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs.

    Terrestrial animal - O Peter Hoygarth
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    Peter Haygarth had been following the dogs as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. On first encountering the cheetah, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the pack arrived, their confidence grew and they began to encircle the cat. Peter kept his focus on the cat's face. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled. (Behaviour: mammals category). (Photo by Peter Haygarth)


  • 5

    A Weddell seal appears to be in a deep sleep.

    Black-and-white - Ralf Schneider
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    Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could relax and digest. Weddell seals reach lengths of up to 3.5 meters–with the females larger than the males, their bodies are covered in a layer of blubber to keep them warm above and below the icy waters of the Southern Ocean. (Black and white category). (Photo by Ralf Schneider)


  • 6

    A brown-throated three-toed sloth on a cecropia tree in Panama’s Soberanía National Park

    Tree - Carlos Pérez Naval
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    With its key features – the three hooked claws clamped to the branch, the characteristic mask-like eye-stripe and its long, coarse fur – clearly visible. (Young wildlife photographers: 11-14 years old category). (Photo by Carlos Perez Naval)


  • 7

    A curious young grey whale approaches a pair of hands reaching down from a tourist boat in San Ignacio Lagoon on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California.

    Water - OThomas P Peschak
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    Baby grey whales and their mothers actively seek contact with people for a head scratch or back rub. (Wildlife photojournalism category). (Photo by Thomas Peschak)


  • 8

    On a bitterly cold morning on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, a flock of long-tailed tits and marsh tits were gathered around a long icicle hanging from a branch, taking turns to nibble the tip.

    Bird - O Diana Rebman
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    Here, a Hokkaido long-tailed tit hovers for a split second to take its turn to nip off a beakful. (Behaviour: birds category). (Photo by Diana Rebman)

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