Budding nature photographers have until March 31st to submit entries to the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Budding nature photographers have until March 31st to submit entries to the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

The world?s longest-running wildlife photography competition is open to enthusiasts and professionals of all ages; the winning photos share a £15,500 prize fund.

Organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, the 2006 competition has new sponsorship from Shell and, for the first time, photographers can enter online.

James Smith from Shell comments: ?We are delighted to be sponsoring this wonderful competition. The competition highlights the importance of supporting global biodiversity. This is an area of considerable importance to use as a company and one to which we are keenly committed.?

The Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year is chosen from 12 adult categories including: Animals in their Environment; Animal Behaviour: Birds; Animal Behaviour: Mammals; Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals; In Praise of Plants; and Animal Portraits. There is also a new category for 2006: Creative Visions of Nature.

Photographers under the age of 17 can enter the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, which is split into three categories: 10 years and under, 11-14 years, and 15-17 years.

The winning photographs are announced in an awards ceremony in October and will be on display at the museum and published in BBC Wildlife Magazine, before embarking on a UK and world tour. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to select their favourite shot in the People?s Choice award.

In last year?s competition there were more than 17,000 entries from over 55 countries. Winner Manuel Presti joins the 2006 judging panel, which is chaired by zoologist and photographer Mark Carwardine.

For a list of competition rules, or to download an entry form, visit www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto or call 0207 942 5015.

PICTURE CREDIT: Bence Mate; runner-up in 2005 Animal Portrait category. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine