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Powerful rhino image wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017

Exhibition: 20 October 2017 – 28 May 2018 #WPY53

Media Preview: Wednesday 18 October, 08.30 – 10.30

The winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition are revealed today at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum, London, which runs the annual competition.

Photojournalist Brent Stirton has won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 title for his compelling image Memorial to a species, which frames a recently shot and de-horned black rhino in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. Once the most numerous rhino species, black rhinos are now critically endangered due to poaching and the illegal international trade in rhino horn, one of the world’s most corrupt illegal wildlife networks. For the photographer, the crime scene was one of more than thirty he visited in the course of covering this tragic story.

Competition judge Roz Kidman Cox says ‘To make such a tragic scene almost majestic in its sculptural power deserves the highest award. There is rawness, but there is also great poignancy and therefore dignity in the fallen giant. It’s also symbolic of one of the most wasteful, cruel and unnecessary environmental crimes, one that needs to provoke the greatest public outcry.’

Natural History Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon says ‘Brent’s image highlights the urgent need for humanity to protect our planet and the species we share it with.’

‘The black rhino offers a sombre and challenging counterpart to the story of ‘Hope’ our blue whale. Like the critically endangered black rhinoceros, blue whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction, but humanity acted on a global scale to protect them. This shocking picture of an animal butchered for its horns is a call to action for us all.’

Daniël Nelson took the award for Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 with his charismatic portrait of a young western lowland gorilla from the Republic of Congo, lounging on the forest floor whilst feeding on fleshy African breadfruit. Daniël’s image captures the inextricable similarity between wild apes and humans, and the importance of the forest on which they depend. 

‘This intimate scene of a gorilla lounging on the forest floor is peaceful, a state of being we would wish for all these magnificent creatures.’ says Daniel Beltra, competition judge and previous grand title winner.

The two images were selected from 16 category winners, depicting the incredible diversity of life on our planet, from displays of rarely seen animal behaviour to hidden underwater worlds. Images from professional and amateur photographers are selected by a panel of industry-recognised professionals for their originality, artistry and technical complexity.

Beating almost 50,000 entries from 92 countries, Brent’s image will be on show with 99 other images selected by an international panel of judges at the fifty-third Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

The exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum on 20 October 2017 before touring across the UK and internationally to locations such as Canada, Spain, the USA, Australia and Germany.

See all the winning images here:

The next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries on Monday 23 October. Find out more at

Exhibition information

Dates and times: Friday 20 October 2017 – 28 May 2018
10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.15)

To book tickets:
Prices from: Adult £14.00*, child and concession £8*
Free for Members, Patrons and children under four
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington

Twitter: @NHM_WPY
Instagram: @nhm_wpy

* Online booking prices including optional Gift Aid donation to the Museum.

South Kensington exhibition sponsor
DONG Energy (NASDAQ OMX: DENERG) is one of Northern Europe's leading energy groups and is headquartered in Denmark. Around 6,200 ambitious employees, including over 900 in the UK, develop, construct and operate offshore wind farms, generate power and heat from our power stations as well as supply and trade in energy to wholesale, business and residential customers. The continuing part of the Group has approximately 5,800 employees and generated a revenue in 2016 of DKK 61 billion (EUR 8.2 billion). For further information, see or follow @DONGEnergyUK on Twitter. 

Notes to editors

Images and media contact

Download photographs for press use at (Password protected).
For the password or to arrange interviews with photographers or judges, please contact the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Communications Officer at the Natural History Museum.
Email: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5156 Mob: +44 (0)7799 690151

  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the Natural History Museum’s annual showcase of the world's best nature photography and wildlife photojournalism on one global platform. Seen by millions of people all over the world, the awarded images shine a spotlight on nature photography as an art form, whilst challenging us to address the big questions facing our planet.
  • A senior correspondent for Verbatim and Getty Images, Brent Stirton has a strong focus on sustainability and the environment, and shoots mainly for National Geographic magazine. He also works regularly for Human Rights Watch, The New York Times Magazine, Le Figaro and GEO magazine, and is a long-time photographer for WWF. He chooses to tell stories about ‘issues that matter’, focusing on wildlife and conservation, global health, diminishing cultures and sustainability. 2017 is the first year he has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year grand title. He has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photojournalism award in the past, along with many other international awards for his long‑term investigative projects.   
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 27, edited by Rosamund Kidman-Cox, is published by the Natural History Museum on 18 October 2017, priced £25.
  • The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. More than five million people visit the sites in South Kensington and Tring every year, and the website receives over 500,000 unique visitors a month. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity.