It took three days for this Asian elephant to die. It had been shot by villagers as it was rampaging through their crops after monsoon floods had forced it out of Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India. Though the shot itself didn't kill the elephant, the bullet had been soaked in acid, and the animal eventually died from septic poisoning. Here, a man prays in front of the body. 'Locals have a mixed relationship with elephants,' says Steve. 'They see them as dangerous and destructive and yet sacred, too,' icons of the Hindu elephant-headed deity Lord Ganesh.
Canon EOS 5D + 16-35MM f2.8L lens. 1/125 sec at f6.7, ISO 400.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India
Steve Winter, USA
Steve became a National Geographic photojournalist in 1991, realising his childhood dream. He specialises in wildlife, especially big cats (his latest book is on tigers). A previous winner of Wildlife Photographer and Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year, he lectures globally on photography and conservation issues, concerned about the natural world, its people and cultures.