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Jaw-Dropping Images From the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest

021_Ofer-Levy---Fly-by-drinkingFly-by drinking. Photo: Ofer Levy/Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

With a wing span of up to five feet, the grey-headed flying fox is the largest bat in Australia. With only 300,000 animals left in the wild, it is rare and protected. Unlike all other species of flying fox, which have fur only down to their knees, this flying mammal has a thick coat of the brown fuzzy stuff down to its ankles. All of that fluff helps when the bat gets thirsty.

"At dusk, it swoops low over the water, skimming the surface with its belly and chest," says photographer Ofer Levy. "Then, as it flies off, it licks the drops off its wet fur."

To get the picture, Levy traveled to Parramatta Park in New South Wales, where he stood in chest-deep water for three hours a day for a week as temperatures soared up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The judges for the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest rewarded his effort with a special commendation for the picture. The competition, which is owned by BBC Worldwide and the Natural History Museum, has released 30 of 100 images that will be featured in an international tour that starts in London on October 19. Photographers from 98 countries submitted roughly 48,000 images to be judged. The overall winner receives a grand prize of $16,000 dollars.

To view more images, check out the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year photo gallery on Outside.

—Joe Spring

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