Last wild picture
These 14-month-old Bengal tiger cubs, cooling off in the Patpara Nala watering hole in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India, turned man-eaters before they were two years old. Between them, they killed three people. But the authorities didn’t kill the tigers. Instead, they captured them and moved them to a facility for ‘problem’ tigers in Bhopal, from which they will never be released. But elsewhere in India and everywhere in their range, tigers are being killed in huge numbers. Fewer than 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, down from 100,000 a century ago. Three of the nine subspecies (the Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers) are now officially extinct, and the South China tiger almost certainly is. The deaths are due to the devastating impact of the demand for tiger parts for traditional Chinese medicine and sky-rocketing human populations, which have eliminated 93 per cent of the tiger’s historic range during the twentieth century. Settlements, roads, industry and agriculture all encroach on tiger territory, sparking growing human-wildlife conflict. The remaining wild tigers cling on in isolated pockets, their numbers declining rapidly.
Canon EOS Rebel T1i + 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 lens; 1/200 sec at f16; ISO 400; three Nikon flashes; Trailmaster infrared remote trigger.
Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Steve Winter, USA
Steve became a National Geographic photojournalist in 1991 and specialises in photographing big cats. He lectures on photography and conservation issues, selling out venues from the Sydney Opera House to the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. He was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2008 and won first prize in the nature story category from World Press Photo in 2008 and 2014.