Budding friendship between eagle and bear is among remarkable moments featured in Wildlife Photo of the Year Awards

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A black bear cub sharing a pine branch with a bald eagle, the breath of an Arctic fox and a group of meerkats posing for the camera are among some of the finalists for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

The images are part of the 25 photographs selected out of 50,000 entries from 95 countries for the People’s Choice award, which is part of the Natural History Museum’s annual contest. 

The shortlist is filled with striking scenes which leave you wondering how they were caught on camera, as well as heartbreaking shots such as the photograph of a kangaroo and her joey among the destruction of the Australian bushfires.  

Pictured: Hope in a burned plantation by Jo-Anne McArthur

In another image on the shortlist, a female horned heart orb weaver spider managed to catch photographer Javier Aznar Gonzalez’s attention while out on a night walk in the Amazon rainforest.  His photograph of the spider weaving a delicate white egg case against a black night sky resembled a bright full moon.  

Pictured: Building an egg case by Javier Aznar González de Rueda

Lucas Bustamante was there when dozens of plains zebra showed up to drink at a waterhole in Etosha National Park, Namibia. While all packed together, with their heads lowered to the water, he managed to snap the fleeting moment a single zebra lifted its head to scan for danger, resulting in a sea of stripes broken up by a single face.   

Pictured: Life in black and white by Lucas Bustamante

For his photo, captured while leading a conservation project in Spain, Antonio Liebana hid near a watering hole and caught the moment a Iberian lynx cub lifted its head from the water, licked its lips and looked directly into the camera.  

Pictured: Lynx cub licking by Antonio Liebana Navarro

Another entry shows a male lion sheltering another from a heavy downpour of rain in Kenya. The two began to nuzzle one another and rub faces before the rain began falling so hard they were barely visible. 

Pictured: Shelter from the rain by Ashleigh McCord

Dr Natalie Cooper, researcher at the Natural History Museum and member of the judging panel, said: “The People’s Choice Award offers striking observations of nature and our relationship with it, sparking our curiosity and strengthening our connection with the natural world. 

“It’s an incredible challenge to pick just one of these images, so we’re looking forward to discovering which wild moment emerges as the public’s favourite.”

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London

The vote is currently open and closes on Tuesday 2 February at 2pm. The winning photograph will be showcased at an exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum until June 5 2022.  

The current exhibition where 100 powerful photographs are on display is open Monday – Sunday, 10.00-17.50 at the Natural History Museum.