THE MARMOT LOOKS paralyzed by fear, its fingers splayed and mouth agape. The fox is poised to pounce. It’s a freeze-frame of chaos, impulse, and terror—nature at its essence.
For his remarkable memorialization of the moment before attack, Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao has won Wildlife Photographer of the Year, awarded today by London’s Natural History Museum.
Bao captured the photograph, titled “The Moment,” in the meadowland of China’s Tibetan Plateau. At 14,800 feet above sea level, the plateau is often called “the roof of the world.” Images from the region “are rare enough,” says Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel, in a press release. “But to have captured such a powerful interaction between a Tibetan fox and a marmot—two species key to the ecology of this high-grassland region—is extraordinary.” (If you’re wondering, the fox’s attack was successful—the marmot did not survive).