Battling rodents, cuddly polar bears and a very relaxed looking whale are all featured in the first ever Lumix People's Choice award for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The Natural History Museum's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award has opened up a category of pictures to public vote.

The new award has singled out 25 images from a long list of 48000 entries from 100 countries and now needs the input from animal lovers around the world.

It seems the charismatic critters of the shortlisted pictures are playing to the crowd.

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Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
A new season male humpback calf twists and turns. Photo / NHM, WPotY
A new season male humpback calf twists and turns. Photo / NHM, WPotY
Morsel combat: The photographer caught these two mice fighting over a crumb. Photo / Sam Rawley, WPoTY
Morsel combat: The photographer caught these two mice fighting over a crumb. Photo / Sam Rawley, WPoTY

A pair of bears go for a backrub; An expressive cougar locks eyes with the lens; in one image, two mice seem to be caught in theatrical combat over a bread crumb.

This year's selection features a dramatic set of images that, though taken in the natural world look as if they were performing to the camera.

Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
The lead humpback whale lunges to locate the fish. Photo / NHM, WPotY
The lead humpback whale lunges to locate the fish. Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY

"The LUMIX People's Choice images capture the essence of the competition; they all ignite a reaction about the natural world and make you see it differently. Showcasing breath-taking beauty, compassion and cruelty, it is impossible not to be moved by them," says Tim Littlewood, the museum's executive director.

"I think everyone who votes has a tough decision to make!"

Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
Polar bear mother and cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada. Photo / NHM, WPotY
Polar bear mother and cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada. Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY
Photo / NHM, WPotY

However, the public will have to make this decision for them and choose the 2019 winner. Wildlife lovers and appreciators of photography have until 2pm (GMT) on February 4 to vote.

Wildlife Photograph of the Year 2019 was awarded last month to another striking image.
Yongquing Bao claimed the top award for his image depicting the sheer shock on the face of a marmot, ambushed by an arctic fox.

Photo / Yongqing Bao
Photo / Yongqing Bao

The darkly humorous image took off around the internet for its inherent meme-worthiness.

No sir, I do not gopher that: The winner of WPotY has been much memed online. Photo / Yongquing Bao
No sir, I do not gopher that: The winner of WPotY has been much memed online. Photo / Yongquing Bao

See the shortlist and cast your vote at nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2019

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