Sunset snow leopard wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice

Wildlife Photographer of the Year
World of the snow leopard [Technical details: Canon EOS 5DS + 24mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO400; Nikon SB28 flash; Camtraptions wireless triggers] (Image credit: © Sascha Fonseca, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A stunning image of a snow leopard at sunset has been awarded first place in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award. More than 60,400 votes were cast, making it the most voted-for award in the competition’s history – and winner Sascha Fonesca says she is “incredibly proud” to have been chosen. 

Taken against the Ladakh Mountains in northern India, this stunning shot was captured during a three-year bait-free camera trap project high up in the Himalayas. Colloquially known as the ‘ghost of the mountains’ this rare sighting of a snow leopard was selected out of a staggering 39,000 images. 

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“I’m incredibly proud to be the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award and I thank all the supporters around the world for making this happen,” said Fonseca, on claiming the top prize.

“Photography can connect people to wildlife and encourage them to appreciate the beauty of the unseen natural world. I believe that a greater understanding of wildlife leads to deeper caring which hopefully results in active support and greater public interest for conservation.”

Fox Affection [Location: North Shore, Prince Edward Island, Canada • Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 500mm lens; 1/1600 sec, f/7.1, ISO2000] (Image credit: © Brittany Crossman - Wildlife Photographer of the Year )

Four highly commended finalists were also selected including Igor Altuna for his image, Holding On, which shows a striking photo of a leopard carrying its next meal by the neck with a baby still clinging on, and Fox Affection which captures two foxes nuzzling one another by Brittany Crossman. 

A young polar bear cub caught playing Among the Flowers by Martin Gregus also impressed the public, whole Marina Cano’s Portrait of Olobor is a stunning photo of a male lion taken in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. 

Now in its 59th year, the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year is one of the longest-running photographic competitions. “This year’s record number of votes illustrates how wildlife photography can engage and inspire audiences with the wonder of nature,” noted Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum.

Among the Flowers [Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada • Technical details: Nikon D850 + 14–24mm lens; 1/640 sec,  f/6.3; ISO100; Aquatech housing; pocket wizard trigger] (Image credit: © Martin Gregus, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

“A result of dedication and perseverance, Sascha’s remarkable image captures the breathtaking beauty of our planet and reminds us of our shared responsibility to protect it.”

To see the full list of images shortlisted for the People's Choice Award, and to be the first to find out about the overall winner, head to the Natural History Museum website where you can browse the gallery and sign up for the newsletter. 

Portrait of Olobor [Location: Masai Mara, Kenya • Technical details: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III + 600mm f4 lens; 1/800 sec, f/8; ISO800] (Image credit: © Marina Cano, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Holding On [Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia • Technical details: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III + 600 mm f4 lens; 1/2500, f/4; ISO 800] (Image credit: © Igor Altuna, Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.