SA rhino pic wins big at Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
The film director believes the photo powerfully sums up the rhino poaching crisis, especially as they are now dependent on humans to live.
Nandi and Storm, are warmed by infrared lamps, as they guzzle the milk that carer Axel Tarifa has prepared for their 2am feed. Picture: Susan Scott
The world’s top photographic competition, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition held annually in London, announced this year’s winners at a gala event which took place in the city’s Natural History Museum.
Submissions for the competition are made by photographers from around the world, with only 100 images out of the 45 000 entries submitted making the final selection.
South African film director Susan Scott was a recipient of one of those 100 awards for her image of two black rhino calves orphaned by rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal.
Scott took the photograph when she was filming at an undisclosed orphanage for her film Stroop – Journey into the Rhino Horn War.
The documentary, four years in the making, was recently screened in the US to critical acclaim, winning awards at major film festivals such as the San Francisco Green Film Festival and the San Diego International Film Festival.
The film won an additional three awards last week at festivals in LA – the film capital of the world.
“While filming Stroop I often found myself in these incredible situations and I always felt so privileged to be there documenting it for the film. So I often switched the camera off video and would quickly click one or two stills of the moment,” said Scott.
“A film powerfully transports us into that world and that is what Stroop does, but an image is something special; it’s that moment frozen, always there for us to absorb the power of it.
“When I followed Axel in to feed the black rhinos, I knew it was pitch black and that I could not light with a flash or a handheld light due to the strict conditions they had set up to reduce stress on the animals.
“So when he walked to where they had been sleeping under the lights to feed them, I was struck by how beautiful the moment looked and of course the black forms in the red light signified so much. The red is unfortunately the colour of where they came from – red blood from the deaths of their mothers – and black for their name, black rhinos.
“It very powerfully sums up the rhino poaching crisis, especially as they are now dependent on humans to live. So capturing this moment in the small space of time was difficult due to having to capture it handheld on a grainy ISO, but I think it all adds to the feel of that moment.
“Our human eye captures so much more than what a photograph can, in terms of light range, but this is exactly how that moment looked and I couldn’t even see Axel’s facial expression but I knew he was tired and that the babies were also tired and sleepy.”