Photo credit: Michael Nichols/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014
The winning shot, by US photographer Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, shows a pride of lions with their cubs at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Entitled ‘The last great picture’, it beat more than 42,000 other entries to take top spot.
Michael received his award from the Duchess of Cambridge (below) at a ceremony held at the Natural History Museum in London.
Commenting on the winning shot, Jim Brandenburg, chair of the judges, said: ‘Nick’s image encapsulated so many elements that demonstrated artistic and technical skill, the sort that takes many years of professional work to hone and craft as he has done.’
The photographer told how he had followed the lions for nearly six months, allowing them to become used to his presence.
And he explained that photographing the animals using infrared ‘transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’.
Shortly before taking the shot, the five female members of the Vumbi pride had attacked and driven off one of the two males in the group.
Meanwhile, eight-year-old Carlos Perez Naval from Spain was crowned Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 with his shot of a scorpion soaking up the sun.
Photo credit: Carlos Perez Naval/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014
Also presenting awards was Sir David Attenborough who said: ‘It’s the 50th birthday, 50 years of remarkable competitions.
‘I remember the very first one… it was a great occasion but it’s marvellous to see what it’s grown into. It is a true privilege to be here after 50 years of these wonderful competitions.’
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.
The best images are due to go on show at the Natural History Museum from this Friday, until 30 August 2015.