South African is Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winning image: Greg du Toit's 'Essence of Elephants' won him the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Natural History Museum</a>Winning image: Greg du Toit’s extraordinary ‘Essence of Elephants’ won him the coveted title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Photo: Greg du Toit /Wildlife Photographer of the Year



anne taylorSticky situation: Isak Pretorius's photo shows a lesser noddy trapped in an orb web spider's web on Cousine Island in the Seychelles. Photo: Isak Pretorius / <a href="" target="_blank" data-mce-href="">Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013</a>Sticky situation: Isak Pretorius’s photo shows a lesser noddy trapped in an orb web spider’s web on Cousine Island in the Seychelles. Photo: Isak Pretorius / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013By Anne Taylor
21 October 2013

South African Greg du Toit beat 43 000 other photographers from 96 countries to claim the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his up-close photograph of elephants at a water hole.

Taken in the Northern Tuli game reserve in Botswana, Du Toit took the image from a ground-level hide, using a slow shutter speed. The movement in the photograph is created by a baby elephant, which rushed past as Du Toit was taking the photo.

The prestigious competition, now in its 49th year, is led by two UK institutions, the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.

South Africans won four of the 15 categories in the competition, with Du Toit also winning the Animal Portraits category.

“Greg’s image immediately catapults us to African plains. This image stood out for both its technical excellence and the unique moment it captures – it is truly a once in a lifetime shot.” – Jim Brandenburg, chair of the judging panel

Brent Stirton won the Photojournalist Award for his project, “God’s Ivory”. Published by National Geographic last year, the project was the result of a three-year-long investigation. The series of images reveal “the complicity of world religion in the worst elephant poaching crisis since the global ivory-trade ban was enacted in 1989”.

Stirton’s work has made an difference. He tells the Sunday Times that since the story was published, “the Catholic Church has issued statements against elephant poaching. “People have been excommunicated from the church in the Philippines. Hillary Clinton used the article to enact US state legislation to address poaching.”

Other winning images by South Africans include:

Isak Pretorius – Sticky Situation [Birds: Behaviour]: a noddy bird caught in a red-legged golden orb web spider’s web.
Hannes Lochner – Curiosity and the Cat [Animal Portraits]: a curious Kalahari lion cub, taken by a camera in a termite mound hide.
Andrew Schoeman – Shot in the Dark [Nature in Black and White]: nocturnal portrait of a lion in the Timbavati nature reserve.
Wim van Heerden – Surfing Delight [Animals in their Environment]: pod of bottlenose dolphins at Port St Johns.
Lou Coetzer – The Golden Hour [Mammals: Behaviour]: lion cubs play-fighting at a waterhole in Etosha.
Thomas Peschak – Death Rays [World in our Hands]: exposing a new trend in Chinese medicinal trade – gill rackers (the feathery mechanisms that aid the filtration of planktonic food in rays).

The photographs are currently on show at the National History Museum in London until the end of November, after which the exhibition will tour internationally. South Africa is, sadly, not on the intinerary.