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These are the first winning photos from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

Wildlife Photographer of the Year
(Image credit: Arshdeep Singh, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

If you've got pandemic-related cabin fever, the world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has just provided some welcome escapism by releasing the first winning images from this year's exhibition.

Hosted by the UK's Natural History Museum, the competition has attracted 50,000 entries from both professional and amateur photographers around the world. While the competition is predominantly about shining a light on different species across the globe, it also aims to "encourage a future of advocating for the planet".

The full list of 100 winners will be announced on 13 October, but the competition has given us an early taster in the form of 16 fantastic shots. These include the photo above, taken by thirteen-year-old Arshdeep Singh, which shows a critically-endangered primate called a douc chilling in a treetop. 

Highlighting the competition's environmental themes is the 'Amazon Burning' shot below, which captures a lone tree surrounded by the flames of a huge forest fire in a powerful symbol of the human impact on the Amazon rainforest. 

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Charlie Hamilton James - Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

There are some lighthearted shots too, with 'Peeking Possums' (below) showing a couple of cheeky marsupials looking out from their makeshift home.

Another standout in the young photographer category is Evie Easterbrook's shot of a pair of Atlantic puffins (below, second), which was taken during a trip to Northumberland, UK. Scroll through the gallery to see the rest of this first batch of winning entries. 

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Gary Meredith, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Evie Easterbrook, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Hannah Vijayan, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Matthew Maran, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Alessandra Meniconzi, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Andrea Pozzi, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Dhiritiman Mukherjee, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Garth Lenz, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Jaime Culebras, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Jose Fragoso, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Laurent Ballesta, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Makoto Ando, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Quentin Martinez, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Image credit: Thomas P Peschak, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Real-world exhibition

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which is now in its 56th year, will be hosting a virtual awards ceremony for the first time in its history. This will be streamed from the Natural History Museum on the evening of 13 October.

The actual exhibition, though, will still be a real-world one. If you're in the London, UK, it will open on Friday 16 October and will be open until Sunday 6 June 2021, and it's always well worth a visit. The photos are framed on impressive light panels, with in-depth descriptions revealing the kits used to take the shot and exactly how many months the photographer had to wait in hide to nail their shot.

The exhibition does also often tour worldwide (with details of international showings not yet announced), but if you're planning to visit the London show at the Natural History Museum, then tickets have just gone on sale to members and supporters. A general sale starts on 3 September, with tickets costing £16.50 for adults (around $22 / AU$30) and £9.95 for kids (about $13 / AU$18).

To book tickets head to the official Wildlife Photographer of the Year site

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