The winners of 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest are officially revealed. The winner of the fifty-third competition is photojournalist Brent Stirton with his heartbreaking photo titled Memorial to a species. The photo shows a recently shot and de-horned black rhino in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve.
We already know that this contest doesn’t only show the beauties of the natural world, but also the problems. The winning image points out to the problem of poaching and illegal trade in rhino horn. Due to poaching, the species on the verge of extinction. According to Stirton, he visited over thirty he crime scenes like this while covering this tragic story.
Stirton’s image is an overall winner, but also won The Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Story category. Natural History Museum Director, Sir Michael Dixon, sees Stirton’s photo as a work that “highlights the urgent need for humanity to protect our planet and the species we share it with.” He adds that “this shocking picture of an animal butchered for its horns is a call to action for us all.”
Liz Bonnin, Science and Wildlife Presenter, says that “this year’s winning image conveys a powerful and disturbing message from a master storyteller.” She adds that it doesn’t only shine light “on a species being pushed to the brink of extinction, but also on the issues of human morality and compassion for the animals we share this planet with.”
Other than the overall winner, there are winners in other categories of the competition. Some of them highlight the beauties, while some focus on the problems in the natural world. The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award went to Daniël Nelson. His photo The good life doesn’t capture a gloomy scene. It shows a young western lowland gorilla from the Republic of Congo, as he lies on the forest floor and eats African breadfruit. Other than being a Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Daniël also won in 15-17 years old category.
The remaining categories of the competition include:
- Photographers up to 10 years old
- Photographers 11-14 years old
- Animal Portraits
- Behaviour: Invertebrates
- Behaviour: Birds
- Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles
- Behaviour: Mammals
- Earth’s Environments
- Animals in Their Environment
- Black and white
- Wildlife Photojournalist: Single image
Take a look at the winning images from the other categories:
The overall winning photo is truly heartbreaking and worrying, and it caused a lot of stir after the winner was announced. It doesn’t show the beauty of wildlife as we might expect. But, it calls for an action, and it’s one of the goals of the contest. The exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum on 20 October 2017. After that, it will be touring across the UK and worldwide, to Canada, Spain, the USA, Australia and Germany. The exhibition will last until 28 May 2018, and the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries on Monday 23 October. For more details and information, head over to their website.
[cover image: Memorial to a species, Brent Stirton, South Africa]