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9 Wildlife Photographs That Are Heartbreaking, Eerie And Beautiful

Sometimes all three at once.

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1. Five female lions sleeping after driving off a male from their pride.

Michael Nichols / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

The Vumbi pride lives in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. In this photo, taken by Michael Nichols, five females rest with their cubs on a rocky outcrop after attacking and driving off one of the males in the pride. Nichols had been following the lions for nearly six months, so by this point they were used to his presence. Later, he learned that three females from the pride had been killed.

This photograph, taken in infrared, won Nichols the grand title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014.

2. A common yellow scorpion, basking on a flat stone in Spain.

Carlos Perez Naval / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

One late afternoon, Carlos Perez Naval found this scorpion in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones in northeast Spain. It was his first ever double exposure photograph, and won him the 10-years-and-under category in the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 competition, as well as the grand title.

3. A sword-billed hummingbird chasing away a collared inca.

Jan van der Greef / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

The sword-billed hummingbird is the only bird with a bill longer than its body (if you exclude the tail). Its 11-centimetre (4.3-inch) bill is for reaching nectar at the bottom of long tube-shaped flowers, but it turns out it's also great for fending off a collared inca crossing its path.

Jan van der Greef was a finalist in the Birds category of the competition.


4. A Siberian jay in mid-flight.

Edwin Sahlin / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Edwin Sahlin noticed Siberian jays gathering whenever he and his family stopped for lunch on a skiing holiday in northern Sweden. One day he dug a pit in the snow, planted scraps of food around the edge, climbed in, and waited – then this jay flew right over him.

The photo made him a finalist in the 15–17 years category of the awards.

5. A sunbathing iguana.

Will Jenkins / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Will Jenkins came across this three-feet-long iguana at the end of a family holiday in Costa Rica. "I love stories about dragons, and I wanted a big picture for my wall that would make me smile every day," he said in a statement. "I also wanted to impress my dad and brother with a shot of the biggest iguana I’d ever seen."

This photo made Jenkins a finalist in the 11–14 years category of the awards.

6. Common frogs mating in Sweden.

Anton Lilja / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Anton Lilja won the 15–17 years category with this photograph of mating frogs in a flooded gravel pit near his home in Västerbotten, Sweden. The bumps in the water are not just ripples, but frogspawn made up of eggs laid by the female. A male needs to fertilise eggs as soon as they leave the females body, and this male frog is keeping a tight hold so he can do just that.

7. A young great white shark after it fought and failed to escape from a hook.

Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

This great white, found by Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann off Magdalena Bay on the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, suffocated after a struggle in which it tried to escape from the hook. The hook, one of many in the bay, was there to catch blue and mako sharks.

Wyssmann says he made the image black-and-white because that "felt more dignified". It made him a finalist in the World in Our Hands category.

8. A young sharpear enope squid 66 feet below the ocean's surface.

Fabien Michenet / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Fabien Michenet became a finalist in the Underwater category with this photo he captured while night-diving in deep water off the coast of Tahiti. The squid is just 3cm long.

9. A teenager in Tunisia offering to sell a 3-month-old fennec fox.

Bruno D'Amicis / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

The teenager dug this pup, along with the rest of its litter, out from their den in the Sahara Desert. Catching or killing wild fennec foxes is illegal in Tunisia, but that doesn't stop people doing it. D'Amicis discovered widespread wildlife exploitation in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco during a long-term project in which he researched issues facing endangered species in the Sahara.

This photo won the World in Our Hands category of the competition.

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