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See This Year's Best Wildlife Photos

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See This Year's Best Wildlife Photos

Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten won the grand title with his photo of critically endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys in China.

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Sixteen-year-old Skye Meaker earned Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image of a leopard named Mathoja waking up at the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana.

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Cristobal Serrano’s photo of crabeater seals on a small ice floe in Antarctica took the top spot in the “animals in their environment” category. The photographer had to wait in a rubber dinghy alongside the floe until the ocean quieted enough for him to launch his drone and get the shot.

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David Herasimtschuk came out on top in the “amphibians and reptiles” category with his image of a northern water snake in the the jaws of a giant salamander called a hellbender. When the snake tightened its body against the salamander’s head, Herasimtschuk recounted, the hellbender tried to reposition its bite, inadvertently allowing the snake to escape.

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Thomas Peschak, a National Geographic photographer, took the top spot in the “birds” category with a photo of a ground finch feeding on the blood of a Nazca booby on Wolf Island, in the northern Galápagos. The finch’s diet normally consists of seeds and insects, which aren’t in regular supply here on the islands, so it makes up for it by feeding on the boobies’ blood. Perhaps most surprisingly, Peschak says the boobies don’t seem to mind.

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Georgina Steytler was the victor in the category of “invertebrate behavior” for her photo of mud-daubner wasps in Western Australia. The females roll mud into balls that will serve as egg chambers for their nests, which they will then cement together into one large mass.

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In the “mammal behavior” category, Ricardo Núñez Montero received the top honor for his photo of Kuhirwa, a young female mountain gorilla in Uganda, who refused to give up her dead baby. Guides said she’d given birth in bad weather and the newborn likely died of cold. At first, Kuhirwa cuddled and groomed the lifeless infant and carried it around on her back. Weeks later, she started to eat what remained of the body, a behavior guides said they’d only seen once before.

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Jen Guyton, a National Geographic explorer, won the “plants and fungi” category with a photo of a welwitschia in the Namib Desert. Individual welwitschia plants can live 1,000 years or more.

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“Night flight”—an image of flying fish off of Palm Beach in Florida by Michael Patrick O’Neill—took the “underwater” category. In the daytime, these fish are quick to flee from danger, but at night, they move more slowly, feeding on plankton, which allowed O’Neill to get closer.

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Marco Colombo prevailed in the “urban wildlife” category with a photo of a critically endangered Marsican brown bear passing through a village in Italy’s Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio, e Molise.

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Jan van der Greef spent two and a half days posted at a flower at his hotel in southern Peru to get the shot that earned him the “black and white” category. As the eastern mountaineer hummingbird drank the nectar, he waited patiently until the bird moved behind a spike and closed its tail, creating a cross.

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A macaque named Timbul is center stage in the image by Joan de la Malla that won the “photojournalism” category. Macaque street shows are fairly common in certain parts of Indonesia, where the monkeys are forced to ride bikes, dance, and do other tricks, sometimes for hours. When not performing, Timbul lives chained up in his owner’s backyard near a railroad track.

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Alejandro Prieto’s camera-trap photo of a jaguar sharpening his claws in western Mexico came in first in the “story” category. Jaguars here are under threat from habitat loss, human development, and increasingly, poaching.

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Javier Aznar González de Rueda took home the portfolio award for a collection of six images. They include this photo of a treehopper guarding her family in Ecuador.

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