South African teenager wins prize for ‘dehorning’ photo

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At first glance, the image looks like the photographer has captured a moment of cruelty with two men removing the horn of a rhino as shards of the material go flying.

But the photo by 19 years old South African Kgaugelo Neville Ngomane reflects attempts to save the rhino population in and around the country’s Kruger National Park from poaching.

This striking shot, taken during an operation by the group Rhino Revolution to dehorn five of the animals in nearby private reserve, has won Mr Ngomane the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year Award. It’s a prize given by the International Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.

“Winning this competition means a lot, because I love photography,” the teenager said.

“But I don’t just want to win, I want to make a difference. It is not easy to watch such an iconic animal being dehorned.

“I hope this picture will make a lot of people see what we have to do to save our rhinos and it will make them support conservation.”

The animals are poached for their horns which are in demand in parts of Asia, where the where the horns are seen as a status symbol and the material is believed to have healing properties.

Dehorning is considered to be a painless process equivalent to cutting someone’s fingernails.

The photograph was entered into the competition by the charit b Wild Shots Outreach.

Founder Mike Kendrick aims to use photography to get young people who live close to the Kruger National Park more engaged with what is happening in the park, which they are often excluded from.

He trains them in photography and then works with them on projects around Kruger.

“Despite living right next door to a national park, 99 percent of these young people have never had access to their natural heritage,” Mr Kendrick says.

He said that he is “very proud” of the young photographer and what he has achieved.

Looking at the photograph, he said that Mr Ngomane, who was about 2m from the action, managed to get low down and achieved a good depth of field.

Dominica Nwabufo