Powerful images from environmental photography prize show challenges and hope

Simon BiddieMy Kingdom Male sea Lion with his harem


By Nell Lewis, CNN

(CNN) — A windswept Arctic fox, a murmuration of birds facing a snowstorm in the Himalayas, and a man and a boy in a flooded living room are among the images recognized in this year’s Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Environmental Photography Award.

The prize, in its third edition, hopes to deliver a conservation message and show the importance of preserving nature. “Photography is a powerful tool for giving a voice to threatened wildlife and biodiversity,” said jury president Sergio Pitamitz in a press release.

The jury, made up of seven professional photographers, chose the winning photos for each category from a total of 10,000 images, submitted by 2,300 photographers from across the world.

The award’s grand prize went to an image of a distressed elephant trying to defend itself after being struck by a freight train in the Lopé National Park in Gabon, on the west coast of central Africa. The animal’s hip was shattered beyond repair and after it died, the park director distributed the meat amongst the local community.

The photograph serves as a tragic reminder of the consequences of human-animal conflict, which is increasing due to habitat loss from human activities, such as agriculture and development. Photographer Jasper Doest from the Netherlands believes the image “has the power to inspire change.”

Pitamitz noted that this single elephant “represents his entire species in the grip of an uncertain future.”

“Doest was able to react in a split second to this sudden event, documenting his story and giving a voice to the forest elephants of Africa,” he added.

Other images show the positive elements of humans’ relationship with nature. In the “Change Makers: Reasons for Hope” category, one image shows elephants being lifted by a crane into a truck and transported from Liwonde National Park to Kasungu National Park, in Malawi, southeastern Africa. While the process looks peculiar, it’s part of a conservation initiative designed to maintain healthy habitats in the parks and establish stable and resilient elephant populations.

Another shows a fake rhino poaching scene at the Wildlife Forensics Academy in South Africa, as rangers are being taught to collect vital forensic evidence required to convict poachers in court.

The winning images are now being exhibited in Monaco on the Promenade du Lavotto, before touring internationally.

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