A photo of a Tibetan fox ambushing a Himalayan marmot has earned a Chinese photographer the 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
The contest received over 48,000 submissions from both amateur and professional photographers all over the world, but Yongqing Bao’s photo was chosen for capturing an extraordinary moment that exemplifies the relationship between predator and prey, and the intensity of life and death.
The Himalayan marmot was not long out of hibernation when it was surprised by a mother Tibetan fox with three hungry cubs to feed. Bao captured the moment in the Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve in China. He is the director and chief ecological photographer of the Qilian Mountain Nature Conservation Association of China.
“Photographically, it is quite simply the perfect moment,” Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel said. “The expressive intensity of the posture holds you transfixed, and the thread of energy between the raised paws seems to hold the protagonists in perfect balance.”
As one of the highest-altitude-dwelling mammals, the Himalayan marmot relies on its thick fur for survival through the extreme cold. In the heart of winter, it spends more than six months in an exceptionally deep burrow with the rest of its colony. Marmots usually do not resurface until spring, an opportunity hungry predators don’t waste.
“Images from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are rare enough, but to have captured such a powerful interaction between a Tibetan fox and a marmot — two species key to the ecology of this high-grassland region — is extraordinary,” Cox added.
Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019: Cruz Erdmann
Cruz Erdmann, 14, won the award for Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 with his portrait of an iridescent big fin reef squid captured during a night dive in the Lembeh Strait off North Sulawesi, Indonesia.
At a young age, he developed a love for the ocean, earned his diving certification at just 10 years old. After inheriting his father’s old underwater camera, Cruz found the perfect medium to express his passion for the underwater world.
Think you have what it takes to be named the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year?
The 2020 competition–open to photographers of all ages and abilities–closes on December 12, 2019.