Beautiful photos: Wildlife Photographer of the Year shortlist released

Katy Holland

These beautiful photos are just some of those shortlisted for the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, which is now in its 50th year.

And for the first time, lovers of nature photography can vote for the best image in a new publicly decided category, the People's Choice Award.

The new category offers up 50 images, pre-selected by the jury from more than 41,000 entries from almost 100 countries, for a global online vote.

The winner of the People's Choice Award will be announced at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards evening and will be a part of the 2014 collection of the world's best images of nature.

The top five People's Choice Award images will be displayed online, adding to the 100-strong portfolio chosen by the judges. The highly anticipated Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition goes on display at the Natural History Museum in London on 24 October before embarking on an international tour.

'In this landmark fiftieth year we're opening up the judging experience to the many wildlife photography fans that follow the competition so closely,' said Tom Ang, member of the 2014 judging panel. 'If you've ever puzzled over why one image wins out over another, this is your chance to have your say. But with so many outstanding shots and just one vote per person, the pressure is on to cast it wisely.'

Championing the discovery and enjoyment of the natural world through the power of photography, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the most established competition of its kind. See a selection of the photos in our slideshow below.

You can vote for the People's Choice Award at .

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See more beautiful photos here!