See the stunning photos people voted for in Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards

"World of the snow leopard" (Sascha Fonseca/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A German photographer’s stunning image of "the ghost of the mountains" has emerged as a fan favorite for the 2023 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

The London Natural History Museum’s annual competition received nearly 39,000 entries this year, and a record 60,466 fans voted for the people’s choice award. Sascha Fonseca’s "World of the snow leopard" got the most votes. 

"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," the museum said in a release. "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 captured the image during a three-year, bait-free camera trap project high up in the Indian Himalayas, the museum said.

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"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," Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, said in a prepared statement.

The museum also shared four other "Highly Commended" finalists who submitted extraordinary work. Those include:

"Holding on" by Igor Altuna: dramatic photo of a leopard carrying a dead monkey and its baby.


"Holding on" (Igor Altuna/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

"Fox affection" by Brittany Crossman: shows red foxes greeting one another with an affectionate nuzzle.


"Fox affection" (Brittany Crossman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

"Among the flowers" by Martin Gregus: a polar bear cub plays among flowers on the coast of Hudson Bay, Canada.


"Among the flowers" (Martin Gregus/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

"Portrait of Olobor" by Marina Cano: a striking image of a male lion in Kenya’s Maasai Mara


"Portrait of Olobor" (Marina Cano/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

"Photography can connect people to wildlife and encourage them to appreciate the beauty of the unseen natural world," Fonseca, the people’s choice winner, 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."

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. The exhibition runs until July 2, and winners will be revealed in October.