These are the incredible images submitted to a photo contest that shows nature at its most beautiful, intriguing and heart-melting.
The stunning pictures were all entered into the 2018 Nature Photographer of Year competition, which attracted 10,000 entries from people in over 50 countries.
Scooping the overall top prize in the contest was French photographer Bastien Riu for his magical image of a ladybird taking off from a plant; the photo was also named as the winner of the Other Animals category.
This is the winning image in the Nature Photographer of the Year contest. It shows a ladybird taking off from a flower and was snapped by French photographer Bastien Riu, who called the picture Flight
UK-based photographer Aaron Gekoski won the Man and Nature category with his heartbreaking image (left) of an orangutan that had been forced to wear a bikini in order to entertain people. Meanwhile Kevin Morgans was named runner-up in the Mammals category, with his image of an arctic snow fox, which he named Bad Hair Day (right)
Runner-up in the Man and Nature category was Spanish photographer Murcia Requena Francisco for this shot showing a seahorse surrounded by plastic garbage
Keith Wilson, president of the judging panel, said the winning photograph was a beautiful mix of timing and light.
He explained: ‘This photo proves that you don’t always have to travel to far and exotic destinations to make a great photo.
‘Once you’ve got an idea and a vision towards nature photography you can also make the perfect photo next to your home.’
As well as naming an overall winner, the competition judges also chose a top entry in every category of the contest.
There were ten categories overall, including Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Landscape, Black and White, and Plants and Funghi.
The competition also included a Youth category, which highlighted pictures taken by photographers aged between 10 and 17, and was won by Carla Rivas, from Spain, who snapped a stunning image of a polar fox in the evening light.
Chinese photographer Songda Cai was runner-up in the Underwater category for a shot showing a small cephalopod wrapped in plastic, left. Pictured right is a tiger cub having its picture taken by tourists in a national park in India. It was taken by Norwegian photographer Tom Schandy, who was a finalist in the Man and Nature category
In this heartwarming image, a tiny fox cub is hand-fed by a nurse at a veterinary surgery in London after being found abandoned by its mother
Other winning entries included a beautiful image of the inside detail of a sugarbush flower, taken by Bart-Siebelink from the Netherlands, and a crisp snap of three birds gathered together, which was submitted by Hungarian photographer Bence Maté.
There was also a special prize given to British photographer Neil Aldridge, who scooped the Fred Hazelhoff Portfolio Award with a thought-provoking series of images that offered a unique insight into the relationship between foxes and English society.
Another particularly poignant image that highlighted the delicate balance between humans and animals was the winning entry in the Man and Nature category, which was won by UK-based photographer Aaron Gekoski.
His heartbreaking image showed an urang utang that had been dressed up in a bikini for entertainment, while another photo in the category, taken by Spanish photographer Murcia Requena Francisco Javier, captured a seahorse surrounded by garbage that had been dumped in the ocean.
Entries for next year’s NPOTY will open in March 2019 with winners announced at the The Nature Talks Photo Festival in November 2019.
British photographer Neil Aldridge won the Fred Hazelhoff Portfolio Award for his series on foxes in England. Pictured is Foxy, who was found abandoned as a cub but is now cared for by a vet who takes him for walks in woodland east of London. The fox lives a semi-wild life
Another of Mr Aldridge’s images shows a badly injured male fox, which was found after being hit by car and taken to the Fox Project in Kent for treatment
A rescued red fox called ‘Sweetie’ is dried off by his owner after being given a bath in another of Mr Aldridge’s shots