Memorial to a species
Taken as part of an undercover investigation into the illegal trade in rhino horn, Brent’s winning image tells the evocative story of one of the trade’s latest victims – a black rhino bull from South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. The poachers responsible are thought to have come from a local community, working to order. After entering the reserve illegally, they ambushed the rhino at a waterhole, shooting it dead before fleeing from its mutilated body.
Brent’s poignant image is symbolic of the devastating impact of the demand for rhino horn. Black rhinos were once the most numerous of the rhino species. However, it was estimated in 2015 that only 5,000 remained in the wild – a number that conservationists believe to have fallen since due to increased poaching. These critically endangered animals will become extinct unless effective and compelling action is taken.
‘When an image shocks and assaults us, there needs to be good reason. With this one, there is. The stark simplicity forces us to witness the brutal, tragic, stupid waste of a poacher’s work. If we feel disgust it is at our own species, while we pity the black bull rhino for its ghastly death, killed by two shots just so that its horn could be hacked off to supply illegal trade in a questionable “medicine”. There is a horrible intimacy to the photograph: it draws us in and invites us to explore our response and responsibility.’
Lewis Blackwell, Chair of the jury
Canon EOS-1D X; 28mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f9; ISO 200; flash.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, South Africa
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