Heartbreaking photo reveals a baby baboon still clinging to its dead mother as she's carried away by a leopard

A female leopard caught a baboon whose baby is still clinging to it.
A baby baboon clings to its dead mother. (Image credit: Igor Altuna/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

From affectionate foxes to ruby-eyed frogs and flamboyant flamingos, the shortlist of photographs selected for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award display the natural world in all of its awesomeness. 

Run by the Natural History Museum, London, the People's Choice Award is open to voters worldwide, who can choose their favorite image at the contest website until Feb. 2, 2023. The winner will be showcased at the museum until the photography exhibit closes in July 2023.  

Highway hyena

A hyena outside of Harar, Ethiopia. (Image credit: Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) pauses in the flash of a remote camera. U.K. photographer Sam Rowley captured this photo outside the city of Harar, Ethiopia, where hyenas eat refuse left by humans, including rotting meat and bones. This hyena is the lowest-ranking member of a local group known as the Highway Clan.  

Among the flowers 

A polar bear cub among purple flowers. (Image credit: Martin Gregus/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Canadian photographer Martin Gregus caught this bucolic image near Hudson Bay, where this polar bear (Ursus maritimus) cub was gamboling amid a patch of fireweed. Gregus used a remote camera placed at ground level to mimic a young bear's-eye-view of the scene.  

That’s the spot 

A guinea fowl grooms another. (Image credit: Richard Flack/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

South African photographer Richard Flack captured this slice of guinea fowl life in Kruger National Park. As he watched a flock of crested guinea fowl (Guttera pucherani), one began to scratch the other's ear. The recipient of these attentions stood motionless with its mouth open, as if to say, "that's the spot!" 

"It's not often you get to capture emotion in the faces of birds . . . but there was no doubt — that was one satisfied guineafowl!" Flack said in a statement accompanying the image

Fishing for glass eels 

Fishing for glass eels in the Dominican Republic. (Image credit: Eladio Fernandez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Eladio Fernandez of the Dominican Republic captured this otherworldly image over the course of several nights in order to highlight the plight of European eels (Anguilla anguilla). These eels migrate from coastal Europe to the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic to spawn, and their young — known as glass eels for their transparent appearance — are fished as a delicacy. However, the eels are critically endangered, making this unregulated fishery problematic for the species' future survival.  

A golden huddle 

Three golden snub-nosed monkeys huddle  against the cold. (Image credit: Minqiang Lu/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

China's Minqiang Lu took this photograph in the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province, the last place on Earth where endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) live in the wild. Lu hiked for over an hour in 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius) to capture this shot of two females and a male snuggling together for warmth.  

Caribbean crèche 

Adult pink flamingos guard over a group of gray chicks. (Image credit: Claudio Contreras Koob/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Pink flamingos are silhouetted against a sapphire sky in this shot taken at Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Photographer Claudio Contreras Koob, from Mexico, stayed a distance from this flamingo nursery, where babies are always guarded by alert adults.  

Wasp attack 

A parasitic wasp after stinging and paralyzing a spider. (Image credit: Roberto García-Roa/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Roberto García-Roa of Spain focused his lens on the very small in this image of a pompilid wasp and Ctenus spider doing battle. Pompilid wasps sting spiders, paralyzing them and dragging them back to their nests to feed their young. In this image taken in Peru, the wasp has just won the battle and is preparing to drag the paralyzed spider away.  

Unlucky for the cat 

A stuffed Andean cat on the wall of a shed. (Image credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Sebastian Kennerknecht, from the U.S., took this picture of an Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita), stuffed and hanging in a shed, in Abra Granada, Argentina. The endangered cat is respected in the region as a guardian of the mountains, but its body is also considered a charm for the fertility of livestock, so the cats are sometimes hunted and killed.  

The elusive golden cat 

A rare African golden cat in the darkness. (Image credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Kennerknecht had better luck with wildcats in Uganda, where he captured this image of one of the rarest cats on Earth, an African golden cat (Caracal aurata). There are very few high-resolution images of African golden cats in the wild; Kennerknecht captured this shot through sheer persistence. After fleeing the area to avoid a charging forest elephant, he and a biologist friend returned to set up a camera trap. The effort paid off.  

The frog with the ruby-eyes 

A close-up of a ruby-eyed frog.  (Image credit: Jaime Culebras/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

What ruby eyes you have! Spanish photographer Jaime Culebras captured this image of a female Mindo glass frog (Nymphargus balionotus) in the Río Manduriacu Reserve in the foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. The frog sat calmly as Culebras set up his equipment to the soundtrack of male glass frog calls.  

Caught by the cat 

A domestic cat crouches with a bird in an abandoned barn in Poland. (Image credit: Michał Michlewicz/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Using a trail cam, Polish photographer Michał Michlewicz tracked a steady stream of activity into this abandoned barn in the village of Radolinek, Poland: a badger, a martin, a fox and lots of cats. This domestic cat had caught and killed a chaffinch. 

Head to head 

Two female musk oxen go head-to-head. (Image credit: Miquel Angel Artús Illana/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Spanish photographer Miquel Angel Artús Illana had been following five musk oxen (Ovibos moschatus) — a male, a female and three calves — through Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park in Norway when the little family came across another little herd. Illana expected the males to stand off, but the weaker of the two backed down quickly. However, to the photographer's surprise, the two females engaged in a brief but fierce scuffle, caught on camera here.

 Covid litter 

A young perch trapped in a surgical glove. (Image credit: Auke-Florian Hiemstra/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A young perch ended up tragically trapped by a discarded surgical glove in a canal in The Netherlands. This incident triggered a scientific study on the impact of COVID-19-related trash on wildlife.

Life and art

A gecko perches over a mural of a cat. (Image credit: Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Spanish photographer Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal planned ahead for this shot of a graffito cat and a real gecko. Knowing that the decorated wall in his hometown of Corella was a common place to see geckos, Mendizabal came out with a camera to wait for the perfect shot. When a gecko perched above the cat's nose, he got it.  

Red and yellow

A close view of a seagull's brightly colored bill (Image credit: Chloé Bès/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This gorgeous shot of a gull was taken on the Japanese island of Hokkaido by French photographer Chloé Bès, who braved the cold to capture the minimalist shot. 

Holding on

A baby baboon clings to its dead mother.  (Image credit: Igor Altuna/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Nature's harsh side is highlighted in this photograph of a female leopard (Panthera pardus) that had just killed a mother baboon in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. The baboon baby clung to its mother as the leopardess walked back to her own baby. The leopard cub then played with the baboon infant for an hour before killing it — a brutal hunting lesson for the young cat.  

Heads or tails? 

Dolphins heads and tails. (Image credit: Jodi Frediani/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

American photographer Jodi Frediani was offered a spot near the bow of a boat in Monterey Bay, California by a friendly stranger and captured this image of three northern right whale dolphins (Lissodelphis borealis). The dolphins were frolicking in the boat’s bow wave on an unusually calm day at sea.  

Portrait of Olobor 

A portrait of Olobor, a male lion from Kenya. (Image credit: Marina Cano/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

This lion (Panthera leo), named Olobor is one of five in the Black Rock pride of Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve. Spanish photographer Marina Cano lowered her camera out of her vehicle to capture this regal shot of Olobor against a black background — the land had recently been burned by local Maasai herdsman to stimulate new growth. 

Coastline wolf

A lone wolf trots along the Canadian coast. (Image credit: Bertie Gregory/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A female gray wolf (Canis lupus) trots along the shoreline of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. British photographer Bertie Gregory was in a dinghy searching for black bears when he spotted this lone female. Gregory set up a remote camera ahead of the wolf's path and then got out of the way, triggering this shot when the wolf walked by.  

Night encounter

A badger peers at the camera lens in a dark forest. (Image credit: Sami Vartiainen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Photographer Sami Vartianinen, from Finland, spent a magical 45 minutes watching this badger (Meles meles) trundle about in a forest near Helsinki. As Vartiainen waited quietly about 23 feet (7 meters) away, the badger scratched, sniffed, rested on the ground and finally headed off into the night to find food.  

Snowshoe hare stare 

A camouflaged snowshoe hare peeks at the photographer. (Image credit: Deena Sveinsson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado was quiet the day that photographer Deena Sveinsson, from the U.S., went on a snowy hike and captured this image of a camouflaged snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). Sveinsson was hiking home when she saw the hare crouched against the snow.  

Fox affection

Two red foxes nuzzle one another. (Image credit: Brittany Crossman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Two foxes (Vulpes vulpes) nuzzle each other affectionately on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Photographer Brittany Crossman reported that this was the tenderest moment she'd ever witnessed between adult foxes.  

A tight grip 

A pregnant male seahorse looks ready to pop. (Image credit: Nicholas More/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A male Bargibant's seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) looks more like a video game character than a living animal in this shot by photographer Nicholas More. More captured the image off the coast of Bali. The seahorse, which measures only about 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) long, was gestating young, which hatch as tiny versions of their parents after two weeks.  

World of the snow leopard 

A snow leopard surveys its mountainous domain. (Image credit: Sascha Fonseca/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A snow leopard is framed against the stunning mountains of northern India in this image, which was captured by a remote camera set by German photographer Sascha Fonseca. Fonseca ran a three-year project setting up bait-free camera traps in the Indian Himalayas in the region of Ladakh. There are likely fewer than 10,000 snow leopards (Panthera uncia) left in the wild, and these elusive cats are a rare sight, given their cold, high-elevation habitat.  

 A fox's tale 

An injured red fox slinks down a set of stairs. (Image credit: Simon Withyman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The sad story of this fox in Bristol, England, highlights the impact that humans can have on wild animals. This young fox sustained an injury after getting tangled in construction netting. Sympathetic humans put out food for the animal, which was struggling to hunt, including the chicken leg seen in this image. After five months, she was captured, treated for her wounds and released back into the wild. But just six months after that, she was hit by a car and killed.  

Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.