Photographer Sascha Fonseca’s spectacular image of a snow leopard set against a pink sky has been voted the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum and offers what it calls a truly global platform for amateur and professional photographers.
“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 organization says.
While the Natural History Museum picked its mainline winners last October, it opened up voting for the People’s Choice Award the following November. The votes have been tallied and the winner has been chosen from the 25 finalists that were vying for the honor.
A record 60,466 votes were recorded and German photographer Sascha Fonseca’s photo of a snow leopard, captured with a camera trap, was crowned the winner.
“Sascha captured this image during a three-year bait-free camera-trap project high up in the Indian Himalayas,” The Natural History Museum explains.
“Known as the ‘ghost of the mountains’, this elusive species is incredibly challenging to photograph in the wild due to their camouflage and stealth, as well as scarce numbers, in remote, rugged habitats. 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.”
Fonseca’s photo was selected after the 39,000 photos submitted to the 58th annual competition were narrowed to just 25 and the photo will be displayed in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum until it closes on July 2, 2023.
“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,” Fonseca says.
Fonesca’s photo beat out four other “highly commended” photos: Holding on by Igor Altuna, Fox affection by Brittany Crossman, Martin Gregus’s Among the flowers, and Marina Cano’s Portrait of Olobor.
“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.”
The fifty-ninth competition is currently being judged and the winners will be revealed in October 2023.
Image credits: All photos are individually credited. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.