This year’s winning image of the Wildlife Photographer Award is not any image you would enjoy watching. With his photo Brent Stirton – a big name among wildlife photographers – wanted to draw our attention to something which, unfortunately, is still a reality: hunting and the extinction of animal species caused by it.
Currently rhinos count among the most endangered animals in the world. The reason for this is a millennium-old superstition. In traditional Asian medicine the rhino horn has been considered a miracle medicine against all kinds of diseases and sores for more than 2000 years. In pulverized form the horn is mixed into foods and drinks and then consumed by sick and wealthy people in Asia. So far western medicine, however, hasn’t managed to prove any effect and the miracle medicine of a rhino horn rather belongs to the category of a placebo cure. Which makes it even worse that rhinos are hunted, killed and, in the worst case, even exterminated for this purpose.
Brent Stirton is an internationally renowned photo journalist. On his website he writes that due to the rise of China and Vietnam and the increasing wealth in parts of their population the rhino population has become severely endangered. Why so?
Because more and more people adhering to this superstition can afford rhino horn and the demand is constantly increasing. In South Africa, where there is currently still the biggest rhino population, this fact has made rhino hunting a lucrative business. Stirton says that this year South Africa will lose about 1,600 rhinos because of hunting. This is particularly tragic if we consider that in South Africa only 20,000 animals have survived.
You can take a look at the photo series on this issue HERE.
The exhibition on the Wildlife Photography Award 2017 can be visited from 20 October 2017 until 28 May 2018 in the Natural History Museum in London.