A monkey making a rude gesture, a couple of bears getting frisky, a fox urinating into a golf hole – this is undoubtedly the year's silliest photography contest. But there's a serious side to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Founded by photographers Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks MBE, the competition aims to raise awareness of conservation issues through humour. They work with the Born Free Foundation, and have released a book to help raise funds for the conservation and animal rights organisation.

The overall winner and portfolio winner was Tibor Kercz for a series of photos of an owl losing its footing on a branch and desperately trying to claw its way back on to join its buddies. Kercz wins a safari to Kenya, courtesy of Alex Walker's Serian and Kenya Airways. He will wins a trophy handmade by disabled men and women in Tanzania by the Wonder Workshop and a camera bag from Think Tank – and the title of Comedy Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017.

Comedy Wildlife Awards
Overall winner and portfolio winner: Help! by Tibor Kercz Tibor Kercz/The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Troy Mayne won the Under The Sea category for his photo of a fish being slapped by a grumpy sea turtle. The On The Land prize went to Andrea Zampatti for his photo of a euphoric tiny mouse at the top of a flower. John Threlfall snagged the In The Air prize for his photograph of a bird apparently passing wind in the shape of a stream of cloud. Each category winner will be awarded a camera bag from Think Tank, a handmade trophy as well as a certificate.

This year's contest attracted over 3,500 entries from 86 countries in five categories: Overall Winner, On The Land, Under The Sea, In The Air, and Portfolio.

IBTimes UK presents a selection of the finalists. If these tickle your fancy, you may want to buy Wild and Crazy: Photos from the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Not only would it make a perfect Christmas present, but you'd be helping to raise money for the Born Free Foundation.

Joynson-Hicks said: "It's been a real success this year, the quality of images has improved substantially and we have had more entries and from more countries. For me, one of my favourites was the fox peeing in the golf hole; I know that there are lots of people who feel the same way about golf! But there were so many incredible shots this year, it was really hard to choose."

The finale of the 2017 competition will be marked with an awards night at a gallery in London, but they are already looking ahead to the next contest. "We are always moving forward, we are looking forward to another increase in entries and receiving even more from even more countries," said Joynson-Hicks.