Yongqing Bao’s photo of a fox surprising a marmot in the Qilian Mountains in China won the top prize in the 2019 Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photograph entitled “The Moment” is a suitable title of a freeze-frame that foreshadows the fox’s imminent attack.
What makes the marmot’s palpable shock more extraordinary is that the animal had just ventured outside for a hunt of its own after spending 6 months in hibernation.
Writes the Natural History Museum in London which hosts the prestigious annual awards show:
This Himalayan marmot was not long out of hibernation when it was surprised by a mother Tibetan fox with three hungry cubs to feed. With lightning-fast reactions, Yongqing captured the attack – the power of the predator baring her teeth, the terror of her prey, the intensity of life and death written on their faces.
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 not to be missed by hungry predators.
Check out more of the best wildlife photos of 2019 here.