Award-winning photographer took ‘dream’ image of a leopard at sunset: See the stunning finalists
A remarkable image of an elusive species known as "ghost of the mountains" won a German photographer The Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award.
Out of 25 images selected as finalists, Sascha Fonseca's image of a snow leopard posed against the Indian Himalayas was chosen by thousands of voters.
A total of 60,466 voters weighed in on this year's competition – which was produced by the Natural History Museum in London. Photos in the contest highlighted scenes of snuggling monkeys, a statuesque lion and a stunned spider out of 38,575 entries from 93 countries.
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With an estimated 6,500 adult snow leopards in the wild, this well-camouflaged, stealthy species is difficult to photograph in their remote habitats, the museum explained. This year's winning image was taken in Ladakhin, India.
Fonseca's image of the leopard, a species threatened by poaching, habitat loss and human-animal conflict, was taken with a bait-free camera trap – where animal movements trigger a hidden digital camera – that was positioned for three years high in the Indian Himalayas.
"Photography can connect people to wildlife and encourage them to appreciate the beauty of the unseen natural world," Fonseca said. "I believe that a greater understanding of wildlife leads to deeper caring which hopefully results in active support and greater public interest for conservation."
Fonseca's image "reminds us of our shared responsibility to protect" these threatened animals as well as the planet, said Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, in a statement announcing the winners.
Last year's winning photographer captured a frantic buzzing ball of bees.
See the finalists
Four "Highly Commended" finalists captured images of a leopard carrying a dead monkey and its baby, nuzzling red foxes, a polar bear cub playing in flowers and a striking male lion.
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Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wildlife Photographer of the Year: See winning snow leopard image