WPY 2019

Photograph Details

Winner 2019

Animals in their Environment

Shangzhen Fan, China

Snow-Plateau Nomads

A small herd of male chirus makes its way to the relative warmth of the Kumukuli Desert. These nimble antelopes are high-altitude specialists found only on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. For years, Shangzhen made the long, arduous journey to observe them there. Here he drew the contrasting elements of snow and sand together.

Underneath their long hair, chirus have a light, warm underfur called shahtoosh. It grows tightly against their skin and can only be harvested by killing and skinning the chirus. Protection since the 1990s has seen their once-decimated numbers increase, but there is still demand – primarily from Westerners – for shahtoosh shawls.

Technical specification

Nikon D5 + 600mm f4 lens; 1/1250 sec at f6.3 (+0.3 e/v); ISO 125; Gitzo GT5532S 6X tripod

Kumukuli Desert, Qinghai, China: latitude 36.8998, longitude 90.85758 Kumukuli Desert, Qinghai, China: latitude 36.8998, longitude 90.85758

Kumukuli Desert, Qinghai, China

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Love this image?

Choose your favourite from this year's collection. You can only choose once.

Top five favourites

Shangzhen Fan

Shangzhen Fan, China

Shangzhen is Director of the China Photographers Association, Director of the Qinghai Wildlife Protection Association and Vice Chairman of the Qinghai Wildlife Photography Association. He has been working and living on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for more than 40 years, focusing on its wildlife environments and experiencing the impact brought by changes to the area.

  • Wild Asses in a Wild Land