During a three-year project, photographer Sascha Fonseca managed to capture an amazing image of the elusive snow leopard gazing out across the mountains of Ladakh, high in the Indian Himalayas. His reward for this hard work is the coveted prize of Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award winner for 2023.


Snow leopards face many threats to their survival, including poaching and habitat loss. Local herders also kill them in order to protect their own livestock, meaning that snow leopard numbers have decreased by over 20 per cent in the past twenty years.

The image received the most votes from the 25 images that made it on the shortlist for this year's prize. Other ranked images included a truly heartbreaking image of a vervet monkey baby still clinging to its mother after it had been killed by a leopard (warning: the image, featured at the end of this article, isn’t for the faint-hearted).

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. The winning images will appear in a special exhibition that will run at the Natural History Museum until 2 July 2023.

World of the snow leopard - Overall winner

Snow leopard on snowy mountain ranges
A beautiful snow leopard (Panthera uncia) triggers a bait-free camera trap high up in the Indian Himalayas. Photo by Sascha Fonseca/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Among the flowers - Top 5

Polar bear amongst purple flowers
A polar bear cub (Ursus maritimus) plays in a field of fireweed on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada. Every so often the cub takes a break from play, stands on its hind legs, and makes sure its mother is still nearby. Photo by Martin Gregus/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Fox affection - Top 5

One fox nuzzles into another
A pair of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) greet each other in the snow-covered landscape of North Shore on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Photo by Brittany Crossman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Portrait of Olobor - Top 5

Male lion facing the camera
A male lion (Panthera Leo) is pictured as he rests in vegetation that has recently been burnt by local herdsmen to encourage new growth. He is known as Olobor, and is one of the dominant males in a pride of lions in Black Rock, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Photo by Marina Cano/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

More images from BBC Science Focus:


Holding on - Top 5

Adult leopard carries ape in mouth with baby ape clinging on
A leopardess (Panthera pardus) carries the body of a vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) she has just killed in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. The monkey’s baby was still alive and clinging to its mother when this desperately sad image was taken. Photo by Igor Altuna/Wildlife Photographer of the Year


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs