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Greg du Toit

21 Powerful Photographs Of Wildlife That Will Make You Feel Things

This year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award shortlist is out today. Here are some of the finalists from the competition, and the stories behind the photographs.

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Tyohar Kastiel

A resplendent quetzal takes food to its two chicks in the Costa Rican cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota. The photographer, Tyohar Kastiel, arrived before dawn each day and sat in the same place, wearing the same jacket, so the pair of resplendent quetzals bringing food to their young chicks would not be startled by his presence.

Laura Albiac Vilas

The Iberian lynx, an endangered cat that exists in only two small populations in southern Spain. Laura Albiac Vilas's family went to the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park to track them down, and got lucky when they found a pair close to the road.

Andrey Narchuk

A pair of mating "sea angels" in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East. Sea angels are molluscs and each individual is both male and female. This pair are about three centimetres long, and they stayed joined for 20 minutes then went on to lay around 30-40 eggs each.

Jack Dykinga

These saguaro cacti in the Sonoran Desert National Monument could be 200 years old. They're slow-growing, and their roots spread out far and wide underground. Jack Dykinga found one he could almost get inside of to take this photo showing the landscape at dawn.

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Justin Hofman

A seahorse grabs onto a plastic cotton bud on a reef near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, as conditions in the water became rougher. Photographer Justin Hofman says that as the tide came in a sewage sludge covered the surface of the water, and plastic debris could be seen floating about.

Erlend Haarberg

Mountain hares fighting during mating season in the mountain birch forest in Vauldalen, Norway. Photographer Erlend Haarberg spent freezing nights in a hide watching and waiting for the hares, and illuminated some areas with lamps, which he says didn't bother the hares at all. One night two hares began fighting over food, and Haarberg managed to capture it.

John Mullineux

Impalas being attacked by a Nile crocodile during a drought at Kruger National Park, South Africa. After three years of low rainfall in the area water was scarce, and the impalas drank while keeping an eye on the crocodiles in the water. Photographer John Mullineux was also keeping close watch and snapped his photo just as the crocodile made its (fruitless) attack.

Steve Winter

A 6-month-old Sumatran tiger cub whose back leg was mangled in a snare and had to be amputated. He was discovered in a rainforest in Aceh Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and will now spend his life in a zoo.

Laurent Ballesta

A Weddell seal and her pup in the icy water of east Antarctica. Weddell seals give birth on the ice and take their pups swimming after a week or two. Photographer Laurent Ballesta said: "They looked so at ease, where I felt so inappropriate."

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Qing Lin

The magnificient anemone stings most fish, but clown anemonefish are covered in a mucus that tricks the tentacles into thinking they are brushing against themselves. These were spotted by photographer Qing Lin while diving in the Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

David Lloyd

An elephant at dusk in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. Photographer David Lloyd waited for the elephant herd to take their evening trek to a waterhole so he could take this photo of what is probably the matriarch of the group.

Paddy Scott

An avalanche in the Himalayas, Pakistan. Photographer Paddy Scott was there to document an expedition to the peak of the as-yet-unassailed Link Sar when he was stopped in his tracks by this avalanche.

Jaime Culebras

An Anthony's nightjar rests on a tire on a farm in Ecuador’s Jardin de los Sueños Reserve. Jaime Culebras was looking for frogs and snakes when he found the bird hunting insects around the farm. Before sunrise it settled on to the tyre and Culebras was able to get this shot.

Sergey Gorshkov

An Arctic fox with a snow goose egg on Wrangel Island in the Russian Far East. Arctic foxes take snow goose eggs and bury them in the tundra to tide them over once the geese have migrated south again.

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Ashleigh Scully

A brown bear and her playful cub at the Lake Clark National Park in Alaska. "This young cub seemed to think that it was big enough to wrestle Mum to the sand," says photographer Ashleigh Scully. "As always, she played along, firm, but patient."

Klaus Nigge

A bald eagle at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island in Alaska, after several days of constant rain that appear to have soaked it to the skin. Photographer Klaus Nigge laid on his front on the beach to gain the trust of the eagles in the harbour, until this one came so close it towered over him.

Charlie Hamilton James

Yoina, 9, with her pet saddle-backed tamarin in Yomibato, a remote area of Peru’s Manú National Park. Yoina is a member of the Machiguenga, an indigenous hunter-gatherer community of around 1,000 people who live in the area.

Greg du Toit

A pack of African wild dogs standing over a male impala they just brought down in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park. Photographer Greg du Toit lay in the sand as he aimed for a shot that revealed the pack "as a collective unit". The backlight in this photograph is actually a neighbouring camper's torch.

Jordi Chias Pujol

Top-down view of a school of Atlantic horse mackerel bunched up into a ball about five metres across, surrounded by predators including European barracudas and bluefish. "It was so dense that I could put my hand inside and catch fish," says photographer Jordi Chias Pujol.

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Chris Bray

At the edge of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in Iceland it fractures and blocks of ice fall towards the melting face of the glacier. Dark lines show where ash from the volcano beneath has been deposited during past eruptions.

Jamie Culebras

A 15-centimetre-long smooth-sided toad on the banks of the Tiputini River in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. Photographer Jaime Culebras followed the toad until it stopped right in front of him and let him compose this portrait.

The overall winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be announced on 17 October. The exhibition opens on 20 October at the Natural History Museum in London.

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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