“The Predators.”

The annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, presented by London’s Natural History Museum and BBC, has just recently announced its 50 finalists, chosen from over 41,000 entries.
Here are a few of the most breathtaking images taken over the last year.
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‘Stretching’ by Stephan Tuengler
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 ‘Apex Predators’ by Justin Black
See more images via Distractify | Finalists Of The 2014 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition Will Leave You Wanting More.

“Cute Leopard Cub makes his Zoo debut.”

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One of two male Amur leopard cubs leaves his enclosure for the first time.
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
Marwell Zoo is a 140-acre (57 ha) zoo situated at Owslebury near Winchester, in the English county of Hampshire.
It is owned and run by the registered charity Marwell Wildlife.
The zoo is home to over 1,200 animals of 135 different species.
The charity undertakes a range of educational and conservation activities, with a particular focus on Africa in addition to work from its base.
London, England
Source: Best photographs of the day: a leopard cub’s debut and St Paul’s in flames | News | The Guardian

“On the Lookout.”

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An ever watchful leopard poses on a tree trunk in the magnificent Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Photograph by Greatstock/Barcroft Images
See more images via The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

The “Disappearing” Bengal Tiger.

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Photograph by Steve Winter
Scientists estimate only about 3,000 wild tigers are left in the entire world.
Tiger territory once stretched from Turkey to the Russian Far East and just a century ago, before the terrible toll of hunting and habitat destruction, 100,000 tigers inhabited the wilds of Asia.
Now their descendents hang on in a tiny fraction of their former range, prowling fragmented pockets of habitat where keeping enough tigers alive to breed is increasingly difficult.
Three of the nine tiger subspecies (Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers) became extinct during the 20th century, leaving only the half dozen living species featured in this gallery.
Recent studies show in just three tiger generations (21 to 27 years) the big cats’ population has shrunk by 50 percent and their range has also been halved.
Shrinking space and rampant poaching for traditional Chinese medicine present a formidable challenge to the future of wild tigers.
About half of all living tigers are Bengal tigers (pictured here), sometimes called Indian tigers because most live in that nation.
Others are in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. Given space and prey Panthera tigris tigris can thrive in many types of forests or grasslands, and the Bengal is the only subspecies that also inhabits mangrove forests, in the Sundarbans island group in the Bay of Bengal.
via Tiger Subspecies Pictures — National Geographic Animals.

“The Solitary Jaguar”.

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Jaguar (image via: Awesome-Desktop/S.K.)
The Jaguar (Panthera Onca) is the third-largest of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and the only living member native to the western hemisphere.
Growing up to 160 kg (350 lb), Jaguars are distinguished by rosette-emblazoned fur, comparatively short tails and an exceptionally powerful bite that enables them to successfully prey on armored reptiles such as caimans and turtles.

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(images via: Fanpop and WWF/Go Wild)
Jaguars are stated to be Near Threatened by the IUCN and while their current range is roughly half of what it once was, these often solitary big cats can still be found from southern Arizona in the United States down to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

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Source: Rio Meow: 9 Amazing Wild Cats Of South America – WebEcoist

“Three Lions”.

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Night Prowler: A lion roams in Chobe National Park, a wildlife conservation area near Kasane, Botswana. Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic Creative
by Becky Little
Cecil the Lion’s death in Africa has focused attention on wildlife crime.
Lions aren’t the only threatened species.
12liongallery.ngsversion.1442349007746.adapt.945.1Against the Wind: A lion wanders the dry Nossob riverbed in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, near the border of two protected areas: South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park.
Photograph by Chris Johns,
But they may well be the most charismatic.
See more Images via 15 Intimate Portraits of Lions