Brent Stirton Awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Getty Images photojournalist awarded for his groundbreaking work documenting the cruelty and tragedy of the trade in rhino horn.

Brent Stirton, Getty Images photographer, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Photo Story, First place, The Deadly Rhino Horn Trade, Memorial to a species: Ezulu Game Farm, Grahamstown, South Africa, May 15, 2016. our pairs of Cow and calf rhinos are captured and moved into transport for relocation to a more secure facility. This is the last of 27 Rhino that are being moved away from game farms in the Port Elizabeth/Grahamstown region where it is feared that security is inadequate to protect these rhino from poachers. 6 rhino have already been killed in the last 3 months and the professional manner in which they were poached has prompted owners to say that it is better for these rhino to leave their farms and go to a more secure facility. The rhinos will travel for 20 hours to their new location and will be sedated every three hours by a vet who will accompany them at all times. They will also be guarded by full time security for their journey and full time at their final location. It is a truism of rhino ownership these days that owners can often not afford the expense of full time security for these animals, such is the pressure from poachers and the value of their horn in Asia.

Brent Stirton, Getty Images photographer, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Photo Story, First place, The Deadly Rhino Horn Trade, Memorial to a species: Ezulu Game Farm, Grahamstown, South Africa, May 15, 2016.

our pairs of Cow and calf rhinos are captured and moved into transport for relocation to a more secure facility. This is the last of 27 Rhino that are being moved away from game farms in the Port Elizabeth/Grahamstown region where it is feared that security is inadequate to protect these rhino from poachers. 6 rhino have already been killed in the last 3 months and the professional manner in which they were poached has prompted owners to say that it is better for these rhino to leave their farms and go to a more secure facility. The rhinos will travel for 20 hours to their new location and will be sedated every three hours by a vet who will accompany them at all times. They will also be guarded by full time security for their journey and full time at their final location. It is a truism of rhino ownership these days that owners can often not afford the expense of full time security for these animals, such is the pressure from poachers and the value of their horn in Asia.

Brent Stirton, Getty Images photographer, The Deadly Rhino Horn Trade, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, May 17, 2016. A Black Rhino Bull is seen dead, poached for its horns less than 24 hours earlier at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa. It is suspected that the killers came from a local community approximately 5 kilometers away, entering the park illegally, shooting the rhino at a water hole with a high-powered, silenced hunting rifle. An autopsy and postmortem carried out by members of the KZN Ezemvelo later revealed that the large calibre bullet went straight through this rhino, causing massive tissue damage. It was noted that he did not die immediately but ran a short distance, fell to his knees and a coup de grace shot was administered to the head from close range. Black Rhino are the most endangered rhino, HluHluwe Umfolozi is one of the last repositories for these animals, with less than 3000 left in the wild today. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images Reportage)

Brent Stirton, Getty Images photographer, The Deadly Rhino Horn Trade, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, May 17, 2016.

A Black Rhino Bull is seen dead, poached for its horns less than 24 hours earlier at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa. It is suspected that the killers came from a local community approximately 5 kilometers away, entering the park illegally, shooting the rhino at a water hole with a high-powered, silenced hunting rifle. An autopsy and postmortem carried out by members of the KZN Ezemvelo later revealed that the large calibre bullet went straight through this rhino, causing massive tissue damage. It was noted that he did not die immediately but ran a short distance, fell to his knees and a coup de grace shot was administered to the head from close range. Black Rhino are the most endangered rhino, HluHluwe Umfolozi is one of the last repositories for these animals, with less than 3000 left in the wild today. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images Reportage)

The Honorary Jury of one of the world’s most prestigious photography competitions, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, hosted by the Museum of Natural History, has announced Getty Images photographer Brent Stirton as first place recipient of the distinguished award.

Selected from almost 50,000 entries, Stirton was awarded for his groundbreaking work documenting Rhino horn’s unending wars — a project that investigates the crisis caused by a thriving market for rhino horn, and for which he was also awarded first place in the Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Photo Story category.

The jury awarded Brent's photograph Memorial to a species the competition's most coveted title as it stood out as the most memorable and striking image out of all 16 categories. The judges also noted the image’s “sculptural power” and strong use of light, encapsulating the breakdown of a vulnerable species in a single frame.

“Getty Images is thrilled to announce that our wonderful photojournalist Brent Stirton has been named Wildlife Photographer of the Year,” said Dawn Airey, CEO, Getty Images. “Our mission is to move the world with images. Our passion is the power of imagery to change behaviour and drive change. Nowhere is this more evident than through Brent’s work, which has profoundly raised awareness and educated the world on important issues of animal welfare and conservation.”

Stirton is an award-winning South African-born photojournalist, now based in Los Angeles, who has an extensive history in the documentary world. He’s a special correspondent photographer for Getty Images, and his work has been published by National Geographic, Time, and The New York Times Magazine. He’s also is a long-time photographer for the World Wildlife Fund, with his work featuring in campaigns on sustainability and the environment. He remains committed to issues relating to wildlife and conservation, global health, diminishing cultures, sustainability and the environment.

For more information on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Brent Stirton’s photo essay Rhino horn’s unending wars, click here.