‘To make such a tragic scene almost majestic in its sculptural power deserves the highest award. There is rawness, but there is also great poignancy and therefore dignity in the fallen giant.’
A photo of a black rhino’s mutilated body, its horns hacked off after it was shot by poachers, has seen Brent Stirton named Wildlife Photographer of the Year. His picture, taken at a game reserve in South Africa, is called ‘Memorial to a Species’. Poachers killed the animal at night, with a silencer, and then dehorned it. Stirton took the photo as part of an investigation into the illegal trade in rhino products.
Brent Stirton said: “For me to win this, for the jury to acknowledge this kind of picture – it’s illustrative that we are living in a different time now, that this is a real issue. The sixth age of extinction is a reality and rhinos are just one of many species that we are losing at a hugely accelerated rate and I am grateful that the jury would choose this image because it gives this issue another platform.”
There are thought to be less than 2,500 black rhinos left, down from 65,000 in the 1970s. Judge Roz Kidman Cox said his image was ‘symbolic of one of the most wasteful, cruel and unnecessary environmental crimes, one that needs to provoke the greatest public outcry.’ It was chosen from almost 50,000 entries from 92 countries.
Here are some of the other winners:
Stuck In by Ashleigh Scully Winner of the 11-14 years old category
Palm-oil Survivors by Aaron Gekoski Winner of the Wildlife Photojournalist: Single image category
Giant Gathering by Tony Wu Winner of the Behaviour: Mammals category
Contemplation by Peter Delaney Winner of the Animal Portraits category