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Take a look at the mesmerising winners of Nature Photographer of the Year 2021

From blizzards of geese to cartoonishly menacing volcanoes, these are the year’s best wildlife and landscape snaps

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Looking at this picture of a bulky silverback gorilla beating its chest, we can’t help but wonder: how on earth did the photographer capture that? Not only is it a great, action-packed image, but it’s also a very close-up shot of a highly dangerous animal. How did the photographer even live to tell the tale?

The snap was taken in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Austrian photographer Josef Friedhuber, and it’s blurry because he was startled by the sudden appearance of the silverback. He took the shot while falling backwards, capturing a damn unique image in the process. Luckily, the gorilla clambered peacefully up a tree – and Friedhuber escaped.

The image won first place in the ‘mammals’ category at the Nature Photographer of the Year awards, a competition run by photography festival Nature Talks which features more than a dozen categories ranging from plants and mammals to ‘black and white’ and ‘youth’. Here are a few more of our favourites from the 2021 edition.

‘Winter Migration’ by Terje Kolaas

‘Winter migration’
Photograph: Terje Kolaas / NPOTY 2021

‘Walking among Fennels’ by Ruben Perez Novo

‘Walking among fennels’
Photograph: Ruben Perez Novo / NPOTY 2021

‘Heat of Hoar’ by Rupert Kogler 

‘Heat of Hoar’
Photograph: Rupert Kogler / NPOTY 2021

‘Dragon’s Lair’ by Denis Budkov

‘Dragon’s Lair’
Photograph: Denis Budkov / NPOTY 2021

‘Red in Red’ by Georg Nies

‘Red in Red’
Photograph: Georg Nies / NPOTY 2021

‘Ice Cell’ by Gheorghe Popa

‘Ice cell’
Photograph: Gheorghe Popa / NPOTY 2021

‘The King of the Ocean’ by Francisco Javier Murcia Requena

‘The king of the ocean’
Photograph: Francisco Javier Murcia Requena / NPOTY 2021

‘Black Leopard’ by William Burrard

‘Black Leopard’
Photograph: William Burrard / NPOTY 2021

‘Fox Crossing the Bridge’ by Andius Teijgeler

‘Fox crossing the bridge’
Photograph: Andius Teijgeler / NPOTY 2021

‘Beautiful World’ by Levi Fitze

‘Beautiful world’
Photograph: Levi Fitze / NPOTY 2021

Not quite got your animal fix? Check out some of the best photos at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

Plus: here are the all winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

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