Wildlife photography requires patience and excellent timing. Competitions like the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, the Siena International Photo Awards, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, andUnderwater Photographer of the Year collect the best photos of animals in their environment from around the world.
Here are 50 award-winning wildlife photos that will make you want to explore the world.
The photo was also the winner of the Alex Walker's Serian Creatures of the Land Award and the Affinity Photo People's Choice Award. Photographer Mary McGowan won a safari in Kenya, a handmade trophy from Wonder Workshop in Tanzania, and a camera bag from Think Tank.
The shark appeared to be smiling as it swam towards the photographer, earning her an award in the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photo, entitled "Pee-a-boo" by Shane Keena, won the Spectrum Photo Creatures of the Air Award in the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photo won the contest's Amazing Internet Portfolio Award.
"Wildlife PhotograBear" by Roie Galitz was a Highly Commended photo in the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photo, entitled "Tango," was Highly Commended in the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The 2018 Wildlife Comedy Photography Awards recognized the photo as Highly Commended.
Another Highly Commended photo from the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards shows a brown bear appearing to clutch its head.
Another Highly Commended photo from the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards shows one animal sticking out its tongue.
The photo was Highly Commended in the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
Highly Commended by the 2018 Wildlife Comedy Photography Awards, the photo shows two monkeys fighting, playing, or something in between.
The photo was Highly Commended in 2018.
"Split" by Geert Weggen earned the title of Highly Commended in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards in 2018.
The photo was taken in Opusztaszer, Hungary.
Alex Walker's photo, taken in Monticelli Brusati, Italy, won the Serian on the Land award.
The birds were photographed in Preston, England.
The photo won the Padi Under the Sea award in the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photo, taken in Masai Mara, Kenya, was a Finalist in the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards named the photo as a Finalist.
The photo was a finalist in the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, taken in Sipadan, Malaysia.
The photo was a finalist in the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
A polar bear mother with a cub hitches a ride in Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada.
The photo was taken in Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya.
The birds appeared near the village of Beit Kama in southern Israel.
The photo, taken by Henry Nicholls, was one of Reuters' best animal photos of 2018.
Whirlwinds swirl in the background of this photo, recognized by Reuters as one of the best animal photos of 2018.
"A leopard seal got into a lagoon just before low tide," Nachoum wrote. "The seal was hiding, waiting to ambush young penguins as they got closer. When a penguin got close enough, the seal moved extremely fast and caught the penguin by its feet dragging it to the open water. I was following parallel to the action. The seal released the penguin twice and the terrified penguin succeeded in escaping, but the seal continued chasing after it, and on the third attempt, drowned the penguin and devoured it."
"A young and inexperienced tiger cub attempts to hunt a chital (spotted deer) in Ranthambore National Park, India; but the chital turned out to be too big for this young cub," Mehta captioned the photo. "I captured the moment when the tiger cub was struggling to get the prey down, as his siblings and mother were watching from a distance."
Wu's photo won third place in the Animals in their Environment category of the Siena International Photo Awards.
The photo took third place in the Beauty of Nature category in the 2018 Siena International Photo Awards.
"Some of these floating islands are great resting places for hunting penguins who can travel many kilometers, before jumping back into the icy water," Potock wrote.
"This photograph harkens back to a time when the USA had braided streams and plenty of space for the Sand Hill Crane migration," Olson wrote. "Now, only a small area of the Platte River in Nebraska can accommodate all of them. Volunteers at the Crane Trust counted 413,000 Sandhill Cranes on this evening … more than they've ever counted before. These cranes are running out of habitat in most of their migration that goes from Siberia to South America."
The photo won Siena International Photo Contest's "Remarkable Award" in 2017.
Gabriel Barathieu's photo of an octopus in the lagoon of the Mayotte won first place in the 2017 Underwater Photography Awards and won the Remarkable Award in the Siena International Photo Awards that same year.
Singh, who started taking pictures when he was six, spotted these two owls in a waste pipe from the car window. He asked his father to stop the car so he could kneel on the seat and get this shot, resting his camera on the half-open window.
Van Oosten had a tough time keeping up with the monkeys as they hopped from tree to tree, but after some slips and stumbles, he captured this shot of a pair resting.
Photographer Cristobal Serrano used a drone to spy these seals in one of their favorite resting spots in the Errera Channel of Antarctica.
Like people, animals mourn their dead relatives. This gorilla mother carried, cuddled, and groomed her infant's corpse.
Kuhirwa, a mountain gorilla, lives in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. After a few weeks of sadness, she gave in and started eating the baby's remains.
This shot depicting Kuhirwa's grief won the mammal behaviors category in the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.
South African photographer Skye Meaker, who's been snapping photos since he was seven, spent hours tracking leopards through the Mashatu Game Reserve of Botswana before he nabbed this shot — and the grand title of Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2018.
The spiny projection on the treehopper's back is called a helmet. It's used to deter predators. González de Rueda captured the photo in La Maná, Ecuador.
Photographer Gerry Pearce captured this turkey tending to his nest in Garigal National Park in Sydney, Australia.
Eduardo Acevedo was named Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year in the 2019 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition for his work.
"The Caretta Caretta turtles spend much of their life in the open ocean," he wrote. "They come to the Canary Island after crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean beaches. In this trip of many years they often have to avoid many dangerous traps like plastics, ropes, fishing nets etc."
"At the very end of the day, this humpback whale was resting 15 meters down and allowed me to free dive centimeters away from her tail," he wrote. "I told my friend I wanted him to be part of the shot, but didn't need to ask the playful calf: he was very curious."
The photo was the winner of the competition's Macro category.
It was the Portrait winner of the 2019 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition.
"I visited Stratoni three times in August 2018 for a photo project dedicated to the seahorse colony that managed to survive there," he wrote. "On my third and last visit I was planning to create a specific group photo of seahorses before sunset using natural light. Just in time for the big finale, a small ray came onto the scene!"
Henley Spiers' photo was the Black and White category winner in the 2019 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, captioned "This image captures the hostile, black silhouette of the cormorant as it dives down onto its prey, who, for a brief moment, remain unaware of the danger above."
It was the winner of the Compact category in the 2019 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest.
Edser was the winner of the British Waters Compact category of the 2018 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition.
The photo earned Kim the title of Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year.
"As the sun sets on Fakarava South Pass, the estimated 700 sharks that are patrolling the mouth of the channel by day begin to hunt at night," Barnden wrote.