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© Lance van de Vyver / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
© Lance van de Vyver / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Finalists In Pictures

Picture of Shayne Fergusson
Updated: 18 October 2016
From termite tossing to what lies beneath the waves, wildlife photographers from around the world show off their stunning images for this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016.

Playing Pangolin by Lance van de Vyver – New Zealand/South Africa

Lance had tracked the pride for several hours before they stopped to rest by a waterhole, but their attention was not on drinking. The lions (in South Africa’s Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve) had discovered a Temminck’s ground pangolin. This nocturnal, ant-eating mammal is armour-plated with scales made of fused hair, and it curls up into an almost impregnable ball when threatened.

© Lance van de Vyver / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

© Lance van de Vyver / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Termite Tossing by Willem Kruger, South Africa

Termite after termite after termite – using the tip of its massive beak-like forceps to pick them up, the hornbill would flick them in the air and then swallow them. Foraging beside a track in South Africa’s semi-arid Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the southern yellow-billed hornbill was so deeply absorbed in termite snacking that it gradually worked its way to within 6 metres (19 feet) of where Willem sat watching from his vehicle.

Photography: Willem Kruger / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photography: Willem Kruger / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Golden Relic by Dhyey Shah, India

With fewer than 2,500 mature adults left in the wild, in fragmented pockets of forest in northeastern India (Assam) and Bhutan, Gee’s golden langurs are endangered. Living high in the trees, they are also difficult to observe. But, on the tiny man-made island of Umananda, in Assam’s Brahmaputra River, you are guaranteed to see one. Site of a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the island is equally famous for its introduced golden langurs.

Photography: Dhyey Shah / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photography: Dhyey Shah / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Blast Furnace by Alexandre Hec, France

When the lava flow from Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island periodically enters the ocean, the sight is spectacular, but on this occasion Alexandre was in for a special treat. Kilauea (meaning ‘spewing’ or ‘much spreading’) is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in constant eruption since 1983.

Photograph: Alexandre Hec / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Alexandre Hec / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Splitting the Catch by Audun Rikardsen, Norway

Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for the killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters. But in recent winters, the whales have also started to follow the boats. Here a large male killer whale feeds on herring that have been squeezed out of the boat’s closing fishing net.

Photograph: Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The Disappearing Fish by Iago Leonardo, Spain

In the open ocean, there’s nowhere to hide, but the lookdown fish – a name it probably gets from the steep profile of its head, with mouth set low and large eyes high – is a master of camouflage. Recent research suggests that it uses special platelets in its skin cells to reflect polarized light (light moving in a single plane), making itself almost invisible to predators and potential prey.

Photograph: Iago Leonardo / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Iago Leonardo / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Swarming Under the Stars by Imre Potyó, Hungary

Imre was captivated by the chaotic swarming of mayflies on Hungary’s River Rába and dreamt of photographing the spectacle beneath a starlit sky. For a few days each year (at the end of July or beginning of August), vast numbers of the adult insects emerge from the Danube tributary, where they developed as larvae. On this occasion, the insects emerged just after sunset. At first, they stayed close to the water, but once they had mated, the females gained altitude.

Photograph: Imre Potyó / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Imre Potyó / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Thistle-Plucker by Isaac Aylward, UK

Try keeping a flying linnet in sight while scrambling down rocky embankments holding a telephoto lens. Isaac did, for 20 minutes. He was determined to keep pace with the linnet that he spotted while hiking in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, finally catching up with the tiny bird when it settled to feed on a thistle flowerhead.

Photograph: Isaac Aylward / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Isaac Aylward / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Crystal Precision by Mario Cea, Spain

Every night, not long after sunset, about 30 common pipistrelle bats emerge from their roost in a derelict house in Salamanca, Spain, to go hunting. Each has an appetite for up to 3,000 insects a night, which it eats on the wing. Its flight is characteristically fast and jerky, as it tunes its orientation with echolocation to detect objects in the dark. The sounds it makes – too high‐pitched for most humans to hear – create echoes that allow it to make a sonic map of its surroundings.

Photograph: Mario Cea / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Mario Cea / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Nosy Neighbour by Sam Hobson, UK

Sam knew exactly who to expect when he set his camera on the wall one summer’s evening in a suburban street in Bristol, the UK’s famous fox city. He wanted to capture the inquisitive nature of the urban red fox in a way that would pique the curiosity of its human neighbours about the wildlife around them. This was the culmination of weeks of scouting for the ideal location – a quiet, well‐lit neighbourhood, where the foxes were used to people (several residents fed them regularly) – and the right fox.

Photograph: Sam Hobson / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Sam Hobson / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Collective Courtship by Scott Portelli, Australia

Thousands of giant cuttlefish gather each winter in the shallow waters of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf for their once-in-a-lifetime spawning. Males compete for territories that have the best crevices for egg‐laying and then attract females with mesmerizing displays of changing skin colour, texture and pattern. Rivalry among the world’s largest cuttlefish – up to a metre (3.3 feet) long – is fierce, as males outnumber females by up to eleven to one.

Photograph: Scott Portelli / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photograph: Scott Portelli / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The fifty-second Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will open at the Natural History Museum on Friday 21 October 2016.