A stunning camera trap image of a beautiful snow leopard in its natural habitat has won Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award.


Sascha Fonseca’s spectacular camera trap image of a snow leopard at sunset, perfectly posed against the mountains of Ladakh in northern India, was captured during a three-year bait-free camera-trap project high up in the Indian Himalayas.

Sascha says, ‘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. 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.’

A record 60,466 nature photography fans voted, and German photographer Sascha Fonseca’s ‘World of the snow leopard’ emerged as the firm favourite gaining nearly 6,000 votes.

'This year’s record number of votes illustrates how wildlife photography can engage and inspire audiences with the wonder of nature. 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.’ says Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum.

'The four ‘Highly Commended’ finalists (shown below along wioh the winning image) that captured the fascination of nature enthusiasts across the globe include ‘Holding on’ by Igor Altuna, a dramatic image of a leopard carrying a dead monkey and its baby, and ‘Fox affection’ by Brittany Crossman, showing red foxes greeting one another with an affectionate nuzzle. A polar bear cub plays amongst flowers on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada in Martin Gregus’s ‘Among the flowers’, while Marina Cano’s ‘Portrait of Olobor’ is a striking capture of a male lion in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

Winning photographs

Against a backdrop of the spectacular mountains of Ladakh in northern India, a snow leopard has been caught in a perfect pose by Sascha’s carefully positioned camera trap. Thick snow blankets the ground, but the big cat’s dense coat and furry footpads keep it warm. Sascha captured this image during a three-year bait-free camera-trap project high up in the Indian Himalayas. He has always been fascinated by snow leopards, not only because of their incredible stealth but also because of their remote environment, making them one of the most difficult large cats to photograph in the wild. Location: Leh, Ladakh, India Technical details: Canon EOS 5DS + 24mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f8; ISO 400; Nikon SB28 flash; Camtraptions wireless triggers
Martin watched this polar bear cub playing in a mass of fireweed on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada. Every so often the cub would take a break from its fun, stand on its hind legs and poke its head up above the high flowers to look for its mother. Wanting to capture the world from the cub’s angle, Martin placed his camera – in an underwater housing, for protection against investigating bears – at ground level among the fireweed. He then waited patiently a safe distance away with a remote trigger. Not being able to see exactly what was happening, Martin had to judge just the right moment when the bear would pop up in the camera frame. Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada Technical details: Nikon D850 + 14–24mm lens; 1/640 at f6.3; ISO 100; Aquatech housing; pocket wizard trigger
It was late afternoon when Marina found Olobor resting. He is one of the famous five-strong coalition of males in the Black Rock pride in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. All around the lion, the ground was black, having been burnt by local Maasai herdsmen to stimulate a new flush of grass. Marina wanted to capture his majestic and defiant look against the dark background and lowered her camera out of her vehicle to get an eye-level portrait. Location: Masai Mara, Kenya Technical details: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III + 600mm f4 lens; 1/800 sec at f8; ISO 800
This leopardess had killed a monkey in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. The monkey’s baby was still alive and clinging to its mother. Igor watched as the predator walked calmly back to her own baby. Her cub played with the baby monkey for more than an hour before killing it, almost as if it had been given live prey as a hunting lesson. Location: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Technical details: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III + 600 mm f4 lens; 1/2500 sec at f4; ISO 800
On a chilly day in North Shore on Prince Edward Island, Canada, a pair of red foxes, greet one another with an intimate nuzzle. The red fox’s mating season is in the winter, and it is not uncommon to see them together prior to denning. This special moment is one of Brittany’s favourite images and one of the tenderest moments she has witnessed between adult foxes. Location: North Shore, Prince Edward Island, Canada Technical details: Canon 5D Mark IV + 500mm lens; 1/1600 sec at f7.1; ISO 2000

The images will be displayed in the redesigned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum until it closes on 2 July 2023


Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum and offers a truly global platform for amateur and professional photographers alike. Using photography's unique emotive power to engage and inspire audiences, the exhibition shines a light on stories and species around the world and supports the Museum in its mission of creating advocates for the planet. The fifty-ninth competition is currently being judged by an esteemed panel of experts, and the winners will be revealed in October 2023.

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