A lion cub locks eyes with yours, inspecting you with an intense curiosity as the last of the day’s embers fizzle out. It’s just you and him. You try to move but can’t, paralysed by a mixture of fear and fascination. Mosquitoes whine; birds sing; and the warm wind flicks specks of sand into both of your eyes. But still, neither of you breaks the stare. You can’t. You won’t.
It’s moments like this that keep me coming back to the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. It may be a cold, dreary Winter day in London, but for that moment you’re in South Africa, face to face with a lion cub at sunset. You forget everything else around you, unable to concentrate on anything but the exhilarating sensation of a lion cub’s eyes burning into yours. And when you eventually do muster the strength to peel your gaze away from his, you’ll find yourself transfixed by a herd of elephants at a waterhole; a lone ibex, shrouded in fog on top of a mountain; and 97 other stirring scenarios that transport you to undiscovered corners of this amazing planet that we call home.