Get us in your inbox


In pictures: the winning photos from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year aren't for the faint-hearted

By Matt Breen

For 52 years, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has been blowing us away with amazing snapshots of the natural world. This year's winners were revealed last week, and are on display at the Natural History Museum – but be warned: the animal kingdom isn't exactly all hugs and kisses. Some of this pictures are pretty gruesome.

There's this picture by Simon Stafford, winner of the Mammals category. It shows hyenas picking over the carcasses of wildebeest that died in a pile-up while crossing the Mara river in Kenya. Makes the cartoon ones in 'The Lion King' seem pretty cute.

Simon Stafford / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

And there's a similar scavenging scene in Charlie Hamilton James's picture – a finalist in the same category – of a grizzly bear squaring off with ravens over a bison in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The bison was actually roadkill – park rangers leave their corpses lying around to distract the bears from other sources of food. Like tourists.

Charlie Hamilton James / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Over in the Underwater category, winner Tony Wu captured the moment when 2,000 two-spot red snapper fish gather in the western Pacific Ocean for one huge, communal, marine version of Netflix-and-chill. Those whirling clouds you can see are made of eggs and sperm. Sadly, the arrival of hungry predators tends to spoil the romance.

Tony Wu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Perhaps the most shocking image is by Paul Hilton, winner of the Wildlife Photojournalist Single Image award. Hilton was present when Indonesian customs discovered 4,000 dead, frozen pangolins in a shipping container at a Sumatran port. The scales of these strange little critters are wrongly considered to have medicinal value in China and Vietnam, and are exported in an illegal trade that has left them as a critically endangered species.

Paul Hilton / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 And lastly, there's the overall winner: Tim Laman's dizzying shot of a male orangutan 100 feet up a tree in search of figs in Indonesian Borneo. If this picture gives you vertigo, then spare a thought for Laman, perched above this guy, trying to get that perfect shot. Budding photographers/brave tree-climbers out there should take note: entries are already open for next year's competition.

Tim Laman / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 is at the Natural History Museum until September 10 2017. 

Want to see more cool animal snaps? Check out these 12 awesome photos from the ZSL Animal Photography Prize exhibition


    Popular on Time Out

      Latest news

        Read next