WPY 2016

Photograph Details

Joint Winner 2016

The Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Story

Charlie Hamilton James, UK

Vultures: circling calamity

Across Africa, vulture populations are in freefall. The main cause of this catastrophic decline is poisoning, both deliberate and incidental. Half of all vulture species in Africa are now endangered and vultures are one of the fastest declining groups of animals worldwide, with numbers set to fall by another 70 to 97 percent in the next 50 years. As an indispensable part of complex ecosystems, this is a tragedy on a colossal scale.

Charlie travelled across Africa to capture the vultures’ story – a grim tale set to end in extinction, followed by ecological and economic disaster, if poisoning and poaching continues.

Technical specification

Image 1: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV; 800mm f5.6 lens and 1.4x extender at 1120mm; 1/2500 sec at f8; ISO 1600.
Image 2: Canon EOS-1D X; 24-105mm f4 lens at 24mm; 1/120 sec at f22; ISO 640.
Image 3: Canon EOS-1D X; 24-105mm f4 lens at 50mm; 1/1000 sec at f9; ISO 1600.
Image 4: Canon EOS-1D X; 24-105mm f4 lens at 24mm; 1/60 sec at f8; ISO 1600.
Image 5: Sony DSC-RX 100M3; 24-70mm f1.8-2.8 lens; 1/640 sec at f5.6; ISO 800.
Image 6: Leica M Typ 240; Summicron-M 35mm f2 lens; 1/750 sec at f16; ISO 800.


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Charlie Hamilton James, UK

Charlie is a conservation photojournalist, shooting mainly for National Geographic magazine. He specialises in environmental issues and technically complex images of wildlife. When not taking photographs, he works as a filmmaker and television presenter.

  • Light path
  • Lookout for lions
  • Treading water
  • Filthy riches
  • Inside job
  • Wild West stand-off
  • The beautiful end
  • Big chick check-up
  • Patient care
  • Vultures as individuals
  • Vultures as commodities