The Year’s Best Wildlife Photos Remind Us Why Nature Is Worth Fighting For

The Year’s Best Wildlife Photos Remind Us Why Nature Is Worth Fighting For
"Snow-plateau nomads" shows a small herd of male chiru trekking through a snow-covered Kumukuli Desert in China’s Altun Shan National Nature Reserve. (Image: Shangzhen Fan, China - Winner 2019, Animals in Their Environment)

Nature can be glorious, miraculous, and sometimes downright brutal. Not all of us get to witness the amazing feats of the natural world happening in the flesh, though. Luckily, we have wildlife photographers who’s riveting images can help bring the wilderness into our living rooms.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award was announced Tuesday at London’s Natural History Museum. The winner, Yongqing Bao of Qinghai, China, captured the moment a marmot reacts in shock at a Tibetan fox about to pounce. The photo is pretty funny, but it also communicates the terrifying reality animals face out there. You can almost hear the marmot’s scream.

“Photographically, it is quite simply the perfect moment,” Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel, said in a press release announcing the winners. “The expressive intensity of the postures holds you transfixed, and the thread of energy between the raised paws seems to hold the protagonists in perfect balance.”

The photos are a reminder that our planet is worth fighting for in an era of rising extinction worries and a dying planet.

Maybe for you, the photo of a big fin reef squid that won 14-year-old Cruz Erdmann Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year is your reminder. For me, it’s Shangzhen Fan’s photo of a snow-covered desert. This year’s award winners have something for everyone.

We’ve rounded up our favourites.

“Snow exposure” provides a portrait of the American bison in Yellowstone National Park in its natural element. (Photo: Max Waugh, USA, Winner 2019, Black and White)
“The garden of eels” is a surreal image of garden eels covering a slope off Dauin in the Philippines. (Photo: David Doubilet, USA, Winner 2019, Under Water)
“Another barred migrant” brings together the issue of the U.S.-Mexico border crisis with the greater environmental crisis. (Photo: Alejandro Prieto, Mexico, Winner 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism: Single Image)
“Night glow” presents a bigfin reef squid off the coast of Indonesia during a night dive. (Photo: Cruz Erdmann, New Zealand, Winner 2019, 11-14 years old)