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.”
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.
“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.
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