LONDON — This powerful image of a pair of golden snub-nosed monkeys seated in contemplation amid iridescent foliage has been awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in photography, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018.

The image, called "The Golden Couple," was captured by Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten in the Qinling Mountains of southwestern China – the endangered monkeys’ only habitat.

Van Oosten said he was “both extremely proud and totally shocked” to have won the grand title in the contest, which is run by the Natural History Museum in London and in its 54th year.

"It is a symbolic reminder of the beauty of nature and how impoverished we are becoming as nature is diminished. It is an artwork worthy of hanging in any gallery in the world,” said Roz Kidman Cox, the chair of the judging panel, of the winning image.

Skye Meaker, 16, from South Africa, won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 with his image of a just-awakened leopard in Botswana’s Mashatu Game Reserve.

Skye Meaker Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
Skye Meaker, 16, from South Africa, won Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 with this image of a leopard in Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana.
Copyright: Skye Meaker

A new Lifetime Achievement Award went to Frans Lanting, the renowned Dutch nature  photographer based in Santa Cruz, California, “for his outstanding contribution to wildlife conservation over more than three decades,” the organizers said.

It is the latest accolade for Rotterdam-born Lanting, who in 2001 was made a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark in the Netherlands for his conservation work.

The winning photos were chosen from more than 45,000 entries from 95 countries. Six American photographers also received accolades in several categories of the competition.

An exhibition showcasing the contest’s top 100 entries will open at the Natural History Museum in London on Friday, before going on tour, including to the Detroit Zoological Society in November and to the Field Museum in Chicago and the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas in 2019.