Stunning Photographs: Snow Leopard at Sunset by Germany’s Sascha Fonseca wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award; Highly Commended Finalists are from Canada and Spain
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 — Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum.
Photographer: SASCHA FONSECA, Germany
Winner: “WORLD OF THE SNOW LEOPARD” — Ladakh, Northern India
“To photograph a snow leopard in its natural habitat is already special. To get one close-up in the snow is very special. And to get a wild snow leopard close up in the snow at sunset in front of a breathtaking mountain-scape is probably the ultimate” — Sascha Fonseca
Please click on photos for enlargement
COMPILED AND PREPARED by MALIK MERCHANT
from (1) Press Release issued on February 9, 2023, by Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY), which is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum (NHM), London; (2) Media Kit that Simergphotos was provided access to by the NHM; and (3) Jay Sullivan’s informative article published on the NHM website.
The Natural History Museum has announced Sascha Fonseca’s spectacular camera trap image of a snow leopard at sunset, perfectly posed against the mountains of Ladakh in northern India, as the winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award for the 58th competition.
Sascha’s image was selected from a shortlist of 25 images that were chosen by the Natural History Museum from nearly 39,000 images that were received from 93 countries. Then, it was left to the public to decide on the winner. A record 60,466 nature photography fans voted, and German photographer Sascha Fonseca’s World of the snow leopard emerged as the firm favourite. Reflecting on Sascha’s photograph, Jay Sullivan notes in his article on the NHM website that the ethereal beauty of the snow leopard and its surroundings clearly resonated with fans who voted for the spectacular photograph.
Sullivan mentions that the photo was taken during a three-year, bait-free, camera-trap project in the Indian Himalayas. Carefully positioned in the mountains of Ladakh in northern India, Sascha’s camera trap caught the elusive snow leopard in the perfect pose.
“When everything came together,” exclaims Sascha, “half of it was good preparation and the other 50% was just luck. To photograph a snow leopard in its natural habitat is already special. To get one close-up in the snow is very special. And to get a wild snow leopard close up in the snow at sunset in front of a breathtaking mountain-scape is probably the ultimate. These rare and wise-looking cats are the stuff of legends and fairytales. In local language they are referred to as Ghost of the Mountains because of their legendary ability to blend in with their surroundings. Their incredible stealth ultimately make them probably the most difficult big cats to photograph in the wild. And it‘s this mystery surrounding the beautiful Snow leopard that always fascinated me.”
With an estimate of only 6,500 adults living in the wild, these big cats face the threats of poaching, habitat loss and human-animal conflict. Three hundred are estimated to reside in northern India’s Ladakh region and the state proudly bears the snow leopard as its state animal.
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.”
Sacha’s image along with the four ‘Highly Commended’ images will be displayed in the redesigned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum located in London’s South Kensington. The exhibition will end on July 2, 2023. Please see details of the exhibition’s opening times at foot of this post.
The 4 Highly Commended Finalists
The four “Highly Commended” finalists 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. The four photographers come from Spain and Canada.
Photographer: MARTIN GREGUS, Canada
Highly Commended: “AMONG THE FLOWERS” — Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Photographer: MARINA CANO, Spain
Highly Commended: “PORTRAIT OF OLOBOR” — Maasai Mara, Kenya
Photographer: BRITTANY CROSSMAN, Canada
Highly Commended: “FOX AFFECTION” — North Shore, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Photographer: IGOR ALTUNA, Spain
Highly Commended: “HOLDING ON” — South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
“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.
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. The photographs shown on this page and past winners can be seen in a special People’s Choice Award Gallery.
Date posted: February 11, 2023.
Visit the Exhibition at Natural History Museum, London
- Opening Times: The exhibition is open Monday – Sunday, 10.00-17.50 (last admission at 16.30), and weekends sell out quickly.
- Tickets: Adult tickets from £17.00*, concession tickets £13.50*, and child £10.25* (*Prices excluding optional Gift Aid donation to the Museum.)
- Book your tickets HERE
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Michael Edward Merriam: Amazing photographs! The one of the leopard and the mother monkey it’s killed has to be one of the most powerful images I’ve ever seen. It perfectly captures the brutality of the natural world all while eliciting a strong emotional response from the viewer. Heartbreaking.
Jessica Campbell: Spectacular shots!
Rodica Ottelia: It took me years not to understand but accept.. it is surviving piece and that’s how we create the balance on the Planet! Yes, beautiful pic indeed!🙂
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