The Best of Nature: Coming Face to Face with the Animal Kingdom

In the search to find this year's European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the German Society of Wildlife Photographers has compiled a collection of the most spellbinding moments caught on camera in the natural world.

Photo Gallery: Eye to Eye with the Natural World Photos
GDT / Michel Roggo

A hummingbird stares into the eyes of a snake. A hunting kingfisher dives into a school of fish. A lonely hyena is silhoetted against a watering hole reflecting the dawn sky. These are just some of this year's captivating moments caught on camera by the finalists in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

This year's top prize went to German-born photographer Britta Jaschinski for her image of a startled cheetah against the bleak, ash-grey backdrop of the aftermath of a bush fire in Ndutu, Tanzania. Normally, a bush fire like that would be a blessing for a cheetah because it would make it easier for him to hunt for confused and frightened potential prey.

"But this cheetah looks unsettled, strange and lost -- almost ghostly," says Jaschinksi. "I took the photo and then watched as he disappeared into the scorched surroundings."

Judges awared prizes in nine further categories including birds, mammals, plants and funghi, landscapes, underwater and man and nature. British photographer Paul Hobson received first prize in the man and nature category for his photo of a bird nesting in a set of traffic lights.

The German Society of Wildlife Photographers awarded the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year title for the tenth time this week.

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