14 brutal, beautiful images from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

The winning photo from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is dark and bloody: A black rhino lies dead on the ground in South Africa's Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, its horn brutally sawed off.

Other winning photos showcase the beauty of nature — sharks circle in a column of water, a bear cub wrestles with its mother, and a a congregation of sperm whales gather to socialize.

The winners of the annual contest, which is produced by the Natural History Museum in London, were announced late Tuesday night. They were chosen from more than 50,000 entries submitted from 92 countries around the world. A selection of preview images from the contest were released in September

You can see the full gallery of winners and finalists on the museum's website, but we've published a selection of some winners and finalists below.

15 PHOTOS
Wildlife Photographer of the Year award winners
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year award winners

This red fox dove into a snowdrift in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, while trying to capture a vole — unsuccessfully.

"Stuck In" by Ashleigh Scully, USA. Winner: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 11-14 Years. (Ashleigh Scully/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This male orangutan swung down to the ground for a snack in Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo. 

"Alfred in contemplation" by Russell Laman, USA. Finalist: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 15-17 Years. (Russell Laman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A nesting leatherback turtle journeys back to the ocean in Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge on the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

"The ancient ritual" by Brian Skerry, USA. Winner: Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles. (Brian Skerry/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Lions rarely attack giraffes, but the photographer Michael Cohen thinks these two in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in South Africa, may have noticed that the animal's misshapen hooves made it difficult to run. 

"Lions' long shot" by Michael Cohen, USA. Finalist: Behavior: Mammals. (Michael Cohen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

These brook trout were battling for a position as a female prepared to lay eggs in her nearby nest in the Magalloway River in Maine. 

"Spawn rivals" by David Herasimtschuk, USA. Finalist: Under Water. (David Herasimtschuk/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This Sumatran tiger cub was saved by an anti-poaching patrol from a snare in a rainforest in Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

"Saved but caged" by Steve Winter, USA. Finalist: The Wildlife Photojournalist Award (single image). (Steve Winter/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Sandbar sharks circle as they come together to feed or spawn in Oahu, Hawaii. 

"A whorl of sharks" by Santosh Shanmuga, USA. Finalist: Black and White. (Santosh Shanmuga/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Shot and dehorned by poachers, this dead black rhino bull lies on the ground in South Africa's Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park game reserve.

"Memorial to a species" by Brent Stirton, South Africa. Winner: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017. (Brent Stirton/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

In Arizona's Sonoran Desert National Monument, these saguaro cacti grow for up to 200 years. They spread as far underground as they stand above it to absorb rain. 

"Saguaro twist" by Jack Dykinga, USA. Finalist: Plants and Fungi. (Jack Dykinga/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Dozens of sperm whales met off the coast of Sri Lanka to socialize for a few days, rubbing against each other to remove dead skin. 

"Giant gathering" by Tony Wu, USA. Winner: Behavior: Mammals. (Tony Wu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Caco, a 9-year-old western lowland gorilla in Odzala National Park, in the Congo, relaxes while enjoying a breadfruit. The photographer Daniel Nelson was just 16 when he took this image, which earned him the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.

"The good life" by Daniel Nelson, Netherlands. Winner: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017. (Daniel Nelson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This whale shark swimming near the Maldives was inhaling a snack as a remora fish aimed to position itself on the shark's head. 

"Big sucker, little sucker" by Alex Sher, USA. Finalist: Under Water. (Alex Sher/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This brown bear cub in Alaska's Lake Clark National Park just wanted to play and wrestle with its mother.

"Bear hug" by Ashleigh Scully, USA. Finalist: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 11-14 Years. (Ashleigh Scully/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This tiny seahorse near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, abandoned the seagrass it was holding when the tide came in bearing plastic and sewage — and grabbed onto this plastic-and-cotton raft.

"Sewage surfer" by Justin Hofman, USA. Finalist: The Wildlife Photojournalist Award (single image). (Justin Hofman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

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SEE ALSO: More from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

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