13 Of The Year’s Most Stunning Wildlife Photos

Up close with a Japanese macaque, a look at a menacing Florida alligator, and more great shots from the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition

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From pensive black-and-white shots to detailed up-close portraits, the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition showcases some of the best animal photos we’ll see in 2012. The winners have been chosen, and these are our favorites from the bunch. Enjoy!

Natural History Museum

Relaxation

Commended Photo in “Animal Portraits” Category Japanese macaques stay warm by taking advantage of hot-spring pools. If they get relaxed enough, some even fall asleep. Jasper Doest took advantage of the opportunity by snapping this shot.
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Winner in “Behaviour: Mammals” Category There’s a reason the cheetahs in this photo look like they’re observing more than hunting. What French photographer GrÃ(C)goire Bouguereau caught in this photo is a mother giving her cubs some hunting “practice” by trapping a gazelle, then letting it loose. Grégoire Bouguereau/Natural History Museum

The Duel

Commended Photo In “Behaviour: Birds” Category At the end of May, geese head to Wrangel Island in Russia. And the foxes come, too, hoping to snatch some eggs or young geese. Here’s a great confrontation against a snowy backdrop.

Bumper Life

Runner-Up In “Urban Wildlife” Category Wildlife can pop up in unexpected places. Case in point: this great photo from Pål Hermansen was taken at an abandoned scrapyard in southern Sweden.

Bubble-Jetting Emperors

Overall Winner This photo won the entire competition for good reason. In the Ross Sea of Antarctica, Paul Nicklen went snorkeling, staying absolutely quiet as he waited for emperor penguins to leave their waiting spots, then clicking his shutter at the perfect moment.

Father’s Little Mouthful

Commended Photo In “Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals” Category This is a male dusky jawfish. Those things in his mouth? Eggs. He’s aerating them, like a good father does.

Warning Night Light

Winner In “Animal Portraits” Category Larry Lynch spotted this menacing-looking gator in (where else?) a Florida state park. The gator had just chowed down on a fish buffet, so it was willing to sit still long enough for Lynch to set up his tripod and snap a portrait.
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Commended Photo In “Animal Portraits” Category These Sulawesi black-crested macaques were in the middle of a game that had turned heated when they huddled long enough for Jami Tarris to take this photo. Jami Tarris/Natural History Museum

Lookout For Lions

Specially Commended Photo In “Nature In Black & White” Category Charlie Hamilton James was looking to film lions when he came across these cheetahs, who were looking out for lions, too.

Sizing Up

Commended Photo In “Cold-Blooded Animals” Category Klas Tamm caught male neriid long-legged flies in a combat dance on the veranda of his holiday apartment.

City Gull

Winner In 15-17 Year-Old Young Photographer Awards At the Canary Wharf in London, Eve Tucker caught this photo of a (common) gull on a (very strange) surface of water.

A Swirl Of Flamingos

Winner In “Creative Visions” Category Did you now there are five different types of flamingo? These, Caribbean flamingos, are the largest and pinkest–which may have helped Klaus Nigge grab this photo while flying above Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Blast-Off

Runner-up In “Underwater Worlds” Category Paul Nicklen won the entire competition with his other photo of penguins, but this one seems just as amazing. Here, an emperor shoots toward the surface to avoid leopard seals.