Longform billboard image

See a Fox Spook a Marmot and More Award-Winning Wildlife Photographs

The London National History Museum’s 55th annual contest garnered more than 48,000 entries from 100 different countries

On a cold day in early spring in China’s Qilian Mountains National Nature Reserve, photographer Yongqing Bao watched a fox and marmot tango for about an hour before they finally clashed. Minutes later, the fox trotted away with a delicious meal. (Yongqing Bao / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Oct. 18, 2019, 5:38 p.m.

The scene looks like something straight out of Loony Tunes: a snarling fox executes a successful sneak-attack on a marmot frozen in the most terror-filled Heisman pose nature’s ever seen.

The image, captured by Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao, is titled “The Moment,” and it’s one of the London National History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners. Now in its 55th year, the contest received more than 48,000 entries from 100 different countries. Judges narrowed the pool down to 19 winners in 18 categories.

“The Moment” attracted meme-worthy acclaim on social media for its comedic value, but sadly, the marmot in question died a few moments after the image was taken, says museum spokesperson Zoe Summers in an email to the New York Times Liam Stack.

“I can confirm that sadly the marmot didn’t survive,” Summers wrote. “The fox was successful in the attack and was able to feed some very hungry cubs!”

Bao was a joint winner in the mammal behavior category. Other categories include animals in their environment, animal portraits, earth’s environments, underwater, invertebrates and wildlife photojournalism.

One hundred images from the contest will be displayed at the South Kensington institution in London beginning today. Entries for next year's competition can be submitted as of Monday, October 21.

It took Audun Rikardsen three years of strategic planning and waiting to capture this image. With his camera fastened high in a tree with a motion sensor attached, he hid a short distance away and waited. And waited. Then, one day, a golden eagle grew used to the camera and began treating the branch as a look-out. In northern Norway, where the image was captured, golden eagles can be found on the coast, where they scavenge for prey ranging from fish to foxes. (Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Two male Dall's sheep spar in the midst of a snowstorm. French photographer Jérémie Villet spent a month trailing the sheep during the animals' rutting season. This image was taking while Villet was lying down in the snow, fighting against the fierce wind. The sheep's battle ended in a draw when the blizzard proved too hazardous to withstand. (Jérémie Villet / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
German photographer Stefan Christmann captured this image of more than 5,000 male emperor penguins huddling to protect each of their delicate eggs. To snap the shot, Christmann braved the chilly -40 degree Fahrenheit weather on the sea ice of Antarctica’s Atka Bay, in front of the Ekström Ice Shelf. (Stefan Christmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Chinese photographer Shangzhen Fan caught a small herd of male chiru—a type of high-altitude specialized antelope that sport slender black horns—leaving its tangled trail on a snowy hillside in the Kumukuli Desert of China’s Altun Shan National Nature Reserve. (Shangzhen Fan / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
In the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia, Chile, a puma snags a guanaco. German photographer Ingo Arndt had spied the puma earlier, and the two had become comfortable with each other throughout the day. Arndt had the assistance of two trackers armed with binoculars and radio to keep the puma in sight. The puma spent 30 minutes creeping up on its prey before launching the attack. (Ingo Arndt / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
A colony of nomadic army ants constructs a brilliant new home for its queen. American photographer Daniel Kronauer watched as the insects used their own bodies to string links of ant chains, creating the scaffolding of their temporary home. Called a bivouac, the structure—almost resembling a crown—is certainly fit for a queen. (Daniel Kronauer / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Italian photographer Manuel Plaickner followed the mass springtime migration of common frogs in South Tyrol, Italy, to capture the amphibians emerging from their winter hideaways and laying eggs. Each frog can lay up to 2,000 jelly-capsuled eggs. The frogs call most of Europe home, but local populations have suffered declines due to habitat loss, disease and pollution. (Manuel Plaickner / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
New Zealand's Cruz Erdmann is just 14 years old. He was on an organized night dive in the Lembeh Strait off North Sulawesi, Indonesia, when he captured this fantastic photo of a bigfin reef squid. He had initially spotted two squids mating, but one took off before he snapped his lens. This one hung back, becoming the star of the show. (Cruz Erdmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Indian photographer Ripan Biswas was stalking a red weaver ant colony in the subtropical forest of India’s Buxa Tiger Reserve, in West Bengal, when he spotted this critter. It, however, is not an ant—although it sort of looks the part, especially from a distance. Behold the ant-mimicking crab spider. The tiny predator deceives its prey with an evolutionary disguise before swooping in for the kill. (Ripan Biswas / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
Rachael Lallensack About the Author: Rachael Lallensack is the assistant web editor for science and innovation at Smithsonian. Read more articles from Rachael Lallensack

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus