Yongqing Bao’s stunning image of a Tibetan fox pouncing on a startled marmot in China’s Qilian Mountains has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which received over 48,000 entries from 100 countries.
Its a rare instant in which a female Tibetan fox, hunting to keep her three cubs alive, engages in a fight for survival with a Himalayan marmot.
Tibetan foxes are only found on the high Tibetan and Ladakh plateaus, which extend into Nepal, China, India and Bhutan.
While the foxes are wide-ranging and so not necessarily rare, living at altitudes of up to 5,300 metres on the plateau’s isolated steppes means that they are difficult to observe.
Very little is known about the foxes. The grasslands on which they live are used by livestock herders which bring them indirectly into conflict with humans.
The foxes are not hunted or persecuted in any significant way, but the prey on which they rely on is.
Born and raised in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau area, Bao was fascinated by the local wildlife. He is now the Director and Chief Ecological Photographer of the Qilian Mountain Nature Conservation Association of China.