Now in its 46th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is an international showcase for the very best nature photography. The competition is owned by two UK institutions that pride themselves on revealing and championing the diversity of life on Earth – the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Being accepted into this competition is something that wildlife photographers, worldwide, aspire to. Professionals win many of the prizes, but amateurs succeed, too.
Each year tens of thousands of entries are received and judged by a specially selected expert panel. The winners are announced at an awards ceremony that takes place each October at the Natural History Museum, London.
THE OVERALL WINNER – WILDLIFE ENVIRONMENT PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
A Marvel of Ant by Bence Mate
When Bence first tried to photograph leaf-cutter ants in action, he thought it was going to be easy. It wasn’t, but relishing the challenge, he found out as much as he could about their complex society and spent hours watching and following them in the Costa Rican rainforest. ‘They proved to be wonderful subjects,’ says Bence, who discovered that they were most active at night. He would follow a column as it fanned out into the forest. Each line terminated at a tree, shrub or bush. ‘The variation in the size of the pieces they cut was fascinating – sometimes small ants seemed to carry huge bits, bigger ones just small pieces.’ Of his winning shot, he says, ‘I love the contrast between the simplicity of the shot itself and the complexity of the behaviour.’ Lying on the ground to take the shot, he also discovered the behaviour of chiggers (skin-digesting mite larvae), which covered him in bites.
THE OVERALL WINNER – YOUNG WILDLIFE ENVIRONMENT PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
The Frozen Moment by Fergus Gill