The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has yielded some amazing images, including some that show the battle for survival between animals and insects as well as the challenges facing our natural world. There are also very sad images of how humanity treats some of our most beautiful creatures.

The Natural History Museum develops and produces the competition, which attracted 49,000 entries from around the world this year. The images will be showcased in lightbox displays at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the museum, and will then tour the UK and travel internationally. Photographers can submit entries for next year's competition between 19 October and 10 December 2020, and further information is available here.

Here are some of the winning images.

Winner 2020, Wildlife Photojournalism: Single Image

A polar bear wearing a wire muzzle performing with a female skater at an ice rink show
"Show Business" won the Wildlife Photojournalism: Single Image category © Kirsten Luce, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Kirsten Luce from the US captured this sad image of of a polar bear performing in an ice-rink show at a travelling Russian circus, Circus on Ice. A wire muzzle stops the polar bear biting back, and she is one of four females reportedly captured in Russia’s Franz Josef Land at two years-old and still performing 18 years later. For the photographer, who has spent a couple of years reporting on animal exploitation and abuse, this was the most symbolically shocking of all the scenes of exploitation she has shot, featuring as it does such an Arctic icon of wildness.

Winner 2020, 11-14 years-old

A clownfish with a tongue-eating louse in its mouth
"A mean mouthful" won the 11-14 years-old category © Sam Sloss, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Sam Sloss from Italy/US won the 11-14 years-old category with his image, "A mean mouthful." He captured the clownfish on a diving holiday in Indonesia, intrigued by its expression. When he downloaded the photos, that he saw tiny eyes peeping out of its mouth. It was a "tongue-eating louse," a parasitic isopod that swims in through the gills as a male, where it changes sex, grows legs and attaches itself to the base of the tongue and starts sucking blood. When the tongue withers and drops off, theisopod takes its place. Its presence may weaken its host, but the clownfish can continue to feed.

Winner 2020, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award

A weaver ant biting the hind leg of a giant riverine tiger beetle
"The last bite" won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio award © Ripan Biswas, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

"The last bite" is part of a winning photo story for Ripan Biswas from India. The giant riverine tiger beetle pursues prey on the ground, while weaver ants stay mostly in the trees, so these two ferocious predators don’t often meet. The beetle was picking off some of the ants from a colony on the ground, and in defence, one bit into its slender hind leg. The beetle swiftly turned and, with its large, curved mandibles, snipped the ant in two, but the ant’s head and upper body remained firmly attached.

Winner 2020, Rising Star Portfolio

A male Eleonora’s falcon brings a bird to his mate minding the nest
"Eleonora's gift" won the Rising Star Portfolio © Alberto Fantoni, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

"Eleonora's gift" by Alberto Fantoni from Italy is part of a photo story that won the Rising Star Portfolio. A male Eleonora’s falcon brings a bird snatched from the sky as it flew over the Mediterranean to his mate minding the nest. Alberto was watching from a hide on San Pietro Island, from where he could photograph the adults on their cliff-top perch. He watched the male pass on his prey, observing that he always seemed reluctant to give up his catch without a struggle.

Winner 2020, Wildlife Photojournalist Story

A chained macaque sitting on a wwoden box with other macaques in the picture
Backroom business" was part of a winning photo story that won the Wildlife Photojournalist Story award © Paul Hilton, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

"Backroom business" by Paul Hilton from UK/Australia was part of a winning, but heartbreaking, photo story that netted him the Wildlife Photojournalist Story award. It shows a young pig-tailed macaque chained to a wooden cage in an open‑air market in Indonesia. Its mother, and the mothers of the other youngsters on show, would have been killed and the babies sold into a life of solitary confinement as a pet, to a zoo or for biomedical research. Having convinced the trader that he was interested in buying the monkey, Paul photographed it in the dark backroom. Although macaques can be legally sold there, much of the illegal wildlife in the market, such as baby orangutans, is traded in the backroom areas.

Winner 2020, 15-17 years-old and Young Grand Title winner

A fox cub eating a goose under a rock
"The fox that got the goose" won the 15-17 years-old category © Liina Heikkinen, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

"The fox that got the goose" by Liina Heikkinen from Denmark won the 15-17 years-old category, and Liina was also the Young Grand Title winner. She was actually only 13 when she took the shot of the cub attempting to keep its hungry siblings at bay, as it succeeded in gaining ownership of a barnacle goose brought back by its mother. Dragging the goose into a crevice, the cub ate its prize while blocking access to the others.

Winner 2020, Behaviour: Birds

A great crested glebe feeding fish to its chick, riding on the back of its other parent
Great crested sunrise won the Behaviour: Birds category © Jose Luis Ruiz Jiménez, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Jose Luis Ruiz Jiménez from Spain won the Behaviour: Birds category with his "Great crested sunrise" portrait. He spent several hours up to his chest in water in a lagoon near Brozas, in the west of Spain, to capture this intimate moment of a great crested grebe family. One of the parents chased fish and invertebrates under water to feed to the stripy-headed chick riding on the other parent’s back, where it stays to avoid predators until it can swim properly.

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