An American photographer and his impressive shot of a critically endangered Bornean orangutan framed high above the Indonesian rainforest has beaten almost 50,000 entries to be crowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016

 © Tim Laman, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Grand Title winner

© Tim Laman, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Grand Title winner

It has been revealed that American photographer Tim Laman has beaten almost 50,000 entries from 95 countries to be crowned the grand prize winner of the 52nd annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition at an event on Tuesday, held at the National History Museum in London. The competition is one of the most prestigious – and popular – events in the photographic calendar.

His winning shot, titled Entwined Lives, frames one of the critically endangered Bornean orangutan above the Indonesian rainforest.

Tim spent three days rope-climbing the 30 metre tall tree to set several GoPro cameras that he could trigger remotely. This captured the orangutan’s face from above within a wide-angle perspective of the forest below.

Orangutans are facing a crisis, with their habitats being constantly destroyed by increasing agriculture and logging – as well as an increase in illegal poaching.

‘Protecting their remaining habitat is critical for orangutans to survive. If we want to preserve a great ape that retains its vast culturally transmitted knowledge of how to survive in the rainforest and the full richness of wild orangutan behaviour, then we need to protect orangutans in the wild, now’, says Tim.

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, London, which runs the competition, comments: ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year highlights some of the big questions for society and the environment: How can we protect biodiversity? Can we learn to live in harmony with nature? The winning images touch our hearts, and challenge us to think differently about the natural world.’

© Gideon Knight, Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Title winner

© Gideon Knight, Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Title winner

Alongside Tim, Londoner Gideon Knight’s work has also been celebrated, with the sixteen-year-old taking away the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for 2016 with his dream-like shot of a crow silhouetted against the moon.

Shot near his London home it shows the twigs of a sycamore tree silhouetted against the blue dusk sky and the full moon. This ‘makes it feel almost supernatural, like something out of a fairy tale,’ says Gideon.

‘If an image could create a poem, it would be like this. It should certainly inspire a few lines,’ says Lewis Blackwell, Chair of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year jury. ‘The image epitomises what the judges are always looking for – a fresh observation on our natural world, delivered with artistic flair.’

Both images will be on display with 98 other shortlisted entries – selected by an international panel of judges – at the Natural History Museum on 21 October 2016 before touring across the UK and across the world, to locations such as Spain, Canada, the USA, Germany and Macau.

The competition is judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals. Images from professional and amateur photographers are selected for their creativity, artistry and technical complexity.

The next Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, WPY53, is open for entries from 24 October to 15 December 2016. Find out more at nhm.ac.uk/wpy

Some of the other winning shots from the competition can be seen below:

© Luis Javier Sandoval, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Impressions winner

© Luis Javier Sandoval, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Impressions winner

© Mats Andersson, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Black and White winner

© Mats Andersson, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Black and White winner

© Nayan Khanolkar, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Urban winner

© Nayan Khanolkar, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Urban winner

© Rudi Sebastian, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Detail winner

© Rudi Sebastian, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Detail winner

© Tony Wu, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Underwater winner

© Tony Wu, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Underwater winner

© Valter Binotto, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Plants winner

© Valter Binotto, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Plants winner

© Ganesh H. Shankar, Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Birds winner

© Ganesh H. Shankar, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Birds winner