Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Blows Us Away... Yet Again

Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum ★★★★★

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 53 months ago

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Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Blows Us Away... Yet Again Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum 5
The daydreaming look of this leopard is so human. Copyright Skye Meaker.

As she rests her head on a branch and looks up at the sky, we wonder what she's daydreaming about. It's hard to look at this leopard and not think her expression is remarkably human. So it is with so many of the entries in this year's excellent Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which has returned to Natural History Museum.

A sloth bear looks out from its cage with sadness in its eyes, likewise with a monkey that's been painted like a clown for a street performance.

The overall winner is this pair of golden snub nosed monkeys. Copyright Marsel van Oosten,

There is plenty of savagery on display too; a jaguar kills a caiman that's roughly the same size as it is, African wild dogs play chase with the head of a baboon, and nurse sharks mate in a frenzied affair that involves a lot of biting — like some sort of underwater S&M courtship ritual.

Anthropomorphism and savagery are combined in the story of a gorilla whose baby died, but she wouldn't part from the body and carried it around for weeks. However, eventually she switched to eating it and we see part of the corpse in her hands. One half of the story feels very human, while the other very animalistic. It's the perfect photo to sum up the two sides of the animal kingdom we see in this show.

A mother gorilla eats its baby's corpse. Copyright Ricardo Nunez.

We're massive fans of this annual exhibition and will always be impressed by the lengths these photographers will go to for the perfect shot. Even more impressive is how innovative some of these images are, so year after year we see some truly unique captures.

A lone herring is lit by the light from the fishing boat, as it swims up towards the light it is closely pursued by a killer whale emerging from the dark. It's such a dramatic shot that it reminded us of Renaissance paintings where the light of heaven illuminates the subject.

These finches have moved from grooming the larger boobies for parasites, to drinking their blood. Copyright Thomas P Peschak.

A rook is bathing in the smoke from a chimney to clean its feathers of parasite and its smoky silhouette looks like it could be a poster for a horror movie. One image that's very telling of our times is two friends taking a selfie on a bridge that's been swarmed by mayflies — there are so many it looks like they've been caught in a snowstorm.

There are plenty of sad moments including a Siberian tiger awaiting an autopsy in a lab, its regal status as the largest of the big cats diminished by having been dragged under a car. A close up of a whale fin and the claw of the digger that's dragging the sperm whale corpse away is touching too.

A flying fish caught 'flying' underwater. Copyright Michael Patrick O'Neill

Even by the annual high standards set by this show, it's an excellent year for the exhibition.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is on at Natural History Museum from 19 October 2018 to 1 July 2019. Tickets are £13.50 for adults, £8 for children.

Last Updated 18 October 2018