A shocking photo of a rhinoceros that was slaughtered for its horns has been named Wildlife Photograph of the Year 2017, reported The Independent.
The image was taken by South African photographer Brent Stirton in the luhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve in north-eastern South Africa.
It shows a black rhino slumped in the mud with a raw, fleshy area where its horns used to be. The animal was shot during the night by poachers who used a gun with a silencer to avoid being detected. They then hacked off the rhino’s two horns, which in some Asian countries have a street value higher than gold or cocaine.
In China and Vietnam, rhino horn, which is actually made of the same material as human toe and finger nails, is believed to cure an wide array of illnesses. Black rhinos are now a critically endangered species, largely because of the illegal trade in their horns. There are thought to be only around 5,000 left in the world.
The image, named Memorial to a Species, is part of a series captured by Mr Stirton. He visited more than 30 sites at which animals had been killed.
He told BBC News: “My first child is going to be born in February; I’m 48. And I think I left it such a long time because I kind of lost faith in a lot of the work we see as photojournalists. You lose faith in humanity to some extent.
“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.”
Story first published: 19th October 2017