Twin gorillas and soaked lions: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

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Commended, Animals in Their Environment: 'Sharing a shower' by Michael Nichols, National Geographic. Scientists have long thought that the main reason that lions band together is to hunt – that food, essentially, is the evolutionary force behind their social bonds. Recently, though, it has emerged that the close bonds between males are moulded by another pressure: the actions of mutual rivals. C-Boy, a black-maned male lion, and his coalition partner Hildur, once controlled a superior territory in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, but they were deposed by a squad of four males known to researchers as the Killers. Nick came across C-boy and Hildur hunkered down in the rain. Though he had spent many months photographing Serengeti lions, he had spent most of his time with larger prides of females. ‘I had never before seen these two senior coalition males together,’ he says. They were used to the car that Nick was in, so he was able to use a simple zoom lens and ambient light. The rain isn’t as unwelcome as their expressions suggest: when water is scarce, the closely bonded pair lick drops from their own and each other’s fur. (Michael Nichols/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

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Soaking wet lions in the Serengeti, toads emerging from the water and a bear catching his dinner are just some of the stunning pictures recognised by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. The competition, now in its 49th year, attracted 43,000 entries from 96 countries around the world. The unique insight into the natural world will be on exhibition at the Natural History Museum in partnership with BBC Worldwide from October 18. Take a look at the commended and specially commended images...

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