Wildlife Photography Exhibition Captures Nature's Beauty And Savagery

Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, Natural History Museum ★★★★★

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 19 months ago

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Wildlife Photography Exhibition Captures Nature's Beauty And Savagery Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, Natural History Museum 5
We love this leopard caught in a camera trap as it skulks through the alleyways of Mumbai. Copyright Nayan Khanolkar.

Hyenas feasting on wildebeest killed in the stampede of the annual migration, a sea lion taking on a sunfish in an hour-long battle, and orang-utans being required to perform in a circus.

Heartbreak and wonder in equal measure — it can only be the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. If you can rely on one annual exhibition to repeatedly deliver breathtaking imagery, it's this one.

Tim Laman's overall winner is of an Orang-Utan climbing a tree to reach some figs. Copyright Tim Laman.

We had many favourites this year including a leopard skulking through a Mumbai alley, and storks nesting on pylons in front of a refinery.

The documentary section this year is particularly strong, depicting a pile of 4,000 defrosting pangolin. These animals are hunted for ineffective traditional medicines and for their meat, but it's illegal to trade in them. This haul was seized from a ship, where it was hidden behind a pile of frozen fish.

It's heartbreaking to see these defrosting pangolins captured as part of the illegal trade in these endangered animals. Copyright Paul Hilton.

But there are stories of humans helping animals too — a shot of a keeper looking after two baby chimps by giving them a lift on his back has the cute factor in bucketfuls.

The exhibition also highlights the savagery of nature as we see a group of chimps fighting over a monkey they've killed and ripped in half. There's a great abstract work of large footprints next to a trail of blood — it's the aftermath of a seal kill by a polar bear but neither animal is present in the photo.

Gideon Knight won the young photographer prize for this scene. Copyright Gideon Knight

This year there's an increase in works with a cinematic quality to them. A bat flying through a shattered window pane has shades of The Dark Knight to it, bison within a swarm of midges glowing in the sunshine would look at home in a Studio Ghibli movie, and a lone jellyfish floating on a still ocean resembles a UFO.

Our previous reviews are an indication of how much we love this exhibition, and this is yet another sensational year.

A parakeet tries to pull out a Bengal monitor lizard that's decided to steal its nest. Copyright Ganesh H Shankar.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is on at Natural History Museum from 21 October to 10 September 2017. Tickets start from £10.50 for adults, concessions available.

For more of this year's images, see our preview of the exhibition. Photography fans should also check out the World Press Photography exhibition where one of the entries happens to be by the winner of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Last Updated 20 October 2016