Wildlife Photographer of the Year reveals a sneak peek of highly commended images

Deep feelers by Laurent Ballesta, France, Highly commended, Underwater (Image credit: Laurent Ballesta / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – held in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London – is known as the world's best nature photography competition, famed for showcasing the beauty, fascination and fragility of the natural world.

This year's contest, which is in its 57th year, was the most competitive yet, attracting over 50,000 entries from professionals and amateurs across 95 countries.

Below is a selection of Highly Commended photographs, while the overall winners will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony, streamed from the Natural History Museum on the evening of 12 October.

Storm fox by Jonny Armstrong, USA Highly commended, Animal Portraits (Image credit: Jonny Armstrong / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The images have been revealed ahead of the first phase of the global UN conference of COP15 on biodiversity, and serve as a reminder of the importance of the variety and variability of life on Earth in securing the future of our planet.

"These extraordinary images showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth and spark curiosity and wonder," says Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum. "Telling the story of a planet under pressure, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition illuminates the urgent challenges we face and the collective action we need to take."

If you want to see the winning images up-close, the flagship exhibition at the Natural History Museum opens on Friday 15 October 2021, and booking is highly recommended to ensure a ticket at busy periods.

After this exhibition ends on 5 June 2022, the 100 images will be toured both around the UK and internationally, to hopefully bring the power of wildlife photography to millions more eyes.

Next year's annual competition opens for entries on 18 October and closes on 9 December 2021. Photographers of all ages, nationalities and levels are welcome.

Find out more and book tickets at:

Lockdown chicks by Gagana Mendis Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka Highly commended, 10 years and under (Image credit: Gagana Mendis Wickramasinghe / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Toxic design by Gheorghe Popa, Romania Highly commended, Natural Artistry (Image credit: Gheorghe Popa / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Lynx on the threshold by Sergio Marijuán, Spain Highly commended, Urban Wildlife (Image credit: Sergio Marijuán / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Up for grabs by Jack Zhi, USA Highly commended, Behaviour: Birds (Image credit: Jack Zhi / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The gripping end by Wei Fu, Thailand Highly commended, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles (Image credit: Wei Fu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Net loss by Audun Rikardsen, Norway Highly commended, Oceans - The Bigger Picture (Image credit: Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Natural magnetism by Jaime Culebras, Spain Highly commended, Urban Wildlife (Image credit: Jaime Culebras / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The great swim by Buddhilini de Soyza, Sri Lanka/Australia Highly commended, Behaviour: Mammals (Image credit: Buddhilini de Soyza / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Mushroom magic by Juergen Freund, Germany/Australia Highly commended, Plants and Fungi (Image credit: Juergen Freund / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.