This photo shows the moment that a sneaky snow leopard proved that it’s a master of disguise while sneaking up on unsuspecting prey.
The shot was captured by wildlife photographer Inger Vandyke in India, and it initially appears to show a herd of blue sheep relaxing on the side of a rocky slope.
But a closer look at the snap shows that a hungry snow leopard is lurking behind the herd and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
As it waits for the time to strike, the leopard can be seen peering from behind a collection of rocks and shrubbery as the sheep remain totally oblivious to its presence.
Inger, the general manager of Wild Images UK, spent several days following the leopard in February.
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She explained: ‘When I look at this image, I often find myself wondering how many leopards we must have walked past in the field and never actually saw.
‘They truly are masters of camouflage. Snow leopards, by their very nature, are ambush hunters and this image really encapsulates how well they can hide while they wait for prey to come their way.
‘Despite how well they manage to blend themselves in, eight out of 10 snow leopard hunts will end in failure, simply because the Himalayas is a very difficult terrain to live in.’
In this instance, the prey made a lucky escape from the leopard – a dramatic scene that was also captured by Inger.
She added: ‘The leopard had already tried to sneak up on a different herd of blue sheep once before, but after awaking from his sleeping spot on a better slope for hiding out, this was his second unsuccessful attempt.
‘The leopard’s face is also quite disheveled which would usually mean an injury from a previous hunt.
‘But these injuries were actually sustained after engaging in rough intercourse with a dominant female.
‘With the weather ranging between -10C and -25C, you have to withstand some unbearable conditions, which all makes for a very tough expedition.
‘I honestly had zero expectations of actually seeing any snow leopards, let alone one that was hunting. Thankfully, I was just very, very lucky.’