Spectacular Shots from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 Competition

Posted on November 20, 2016


An urban leopard in Mumbai, the spectre of a crow in London’s Valentine’s Park and a charnel house of dead wildebeest in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. All category winners in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year.


‘Entwined lives’ – Tim Laman, USA
Winner, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016
A young male orangutan makes the 30-metre (100-foot) climb up the thickest root of the strangler fig that has entwined itself around a tree emerging high above the canopy. The backdrop is the rich rainforest of the Gunung Palung National Park, in West Kalimantan, one of the few protected orangutan strongholds in Indonesian Borneo. The orangutan has returned to feast on the crop of figs. He has a mental map of the likely fruiting trees in his huge range, and he has already feasted here. Tim knew he would return and, more important, that there was no way to reach the top – no route through the canopy – other than up the tree. But he had to do three days of climbing up and down himself, by rope, to place in position several GoPro cameras that he could trigger remotely to give him a chance of not only a wide-angle view of the forest below but also a view of the orangutan’s face from above. This shot was the one he had long visualized, looking down on the orangutan within its forest home.
GoPro HERO4 Black; 1/30 sec at f2.8; ISO 231.

Each year devoted wildlife photographers submit their best in the hopes of picking up the prized title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Each year we marvel at the entrants’ efforts, patience and vision and the sheer diversity of pictures culled from the natural world. In 2016 the yearning of a lone male orangutan for sweet figs captured the hearts of the competition judges, leaving American photographer Tim Laman punching the air.

Tim’s picture is shot used a remotely triggered GoPro Hero4 in the tree canopy to get a top-down view of the orangutan’s face as it climbed. Proof positive that you don’t need to spend your way into the game. Although he did rope climb 30 metres to position the camera so there’s a big physical investment and commitment. The orangutan’s is no less: habitat loss and poaching make them an endangered species.

“Protecting their remaining habitat is critical for orangutans to survive,” says Tim about the orangutan’s home in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, one of the few protected orangutan strongholds in Indonesian Borneo. “If we want to preserve a great ape that retains its vast culturally transmitted knowledge of how to survive in the rainforest and the full richness of wild orangutan behaviour, then we need to protect orangutans in the wild, now.”

Entwined Lives – Nature in the Balance

Some of the winning images show animal behaviours in their purest expression – a grizzly bear asserting its superiority over the carcass of a bison, red snappers spawning – but in many of the pictures, the spectre of man’s impact on animal species is felt keenly. One in particular, featuring 4,000 dead pangolins seized from the illegal exotic meat trade and traditional medicine, shows the depth of humankind’s betrayal of nature.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. Enjoy a selection of the winning images below. Click on them to see technical information on each shot.

To see this year’s incredible images in their entirety, go to London’s Natural History Museum where they are on display until 10 September 2017. They will also tour to other venues in the UK, Spain, Canada, Germany, the USA and Macau. The next Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, WPY53, is open for entries now until 15 December 2016. Find out more at nhm.ac.uk/wpy