These two stools stand for the many deeply disturbing items that are being smuggled by people all over the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stores 1.5 million seized items at a warehouse in Denver, Colorado. Trolleys are used to move the confiscated items around the warehouse.
I placed the body parts on this backdrop to give some dignity to the objects and pay respect to the animals that lose their lives in the name of status, greed and superstition.
Nikon D810, 2.8/24-70mm, ISO 500, tripod, Pro LED light
Over the past 25 years I have spent a lot of time in spring in the mountains of central Norway photographing hares in the upland birch forests. These animals are nocturnal – even during the mating season most activities take place under the cover of darkness. Fights between males – be it for food or a female – occur regularly, but because of their nocturnal habits, are rarely observed.
I have tried for a long time to capture such a near-perfect image as this one. The hares have taken up a perfect position, and a soft snow fall emphasizes the magic of the moment.
Nikon D800E, 2.8/300mm, ISO 3200, tripod, 1000W flood light
from Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel
The award-winning photographs of the competition “European Wildlife Photographer of the Year” are an exceptional selection of thrilling, funny, poetic and inspiring images. This year, I am once more impressed by the diversity of subjects and great artistic execution of photographs, which reflect the many faces of Nature, often from surprising and uncommon points of view. Their emotional power shows once more the crucial role of nature photography: it transports the fascination that Nature exerts on us, and thus contributes to better understanding and greater awareness for the need of protection. For the first time in the 17 years of its existence, this competition has two overall winners. These are entirely different in content and expression – and still, there is a special harmony between them. With the two mountain hares (Lepus timidus), Erlend Haarberg from Norway has successfully captured a rare subject. Rare, because mountain hares in Norway are listed as a species vulnerable to extinction; the variety of mountain hares local to the German Alps is especially endangered. It is also rare because the nocturnal mountain hares with their impeccable white fur are perfectly camouflaged in the darkness. No shadow gives away their presence in the snowy landscape. In a very aesthetic way, this nature photograph conveys power and vitality, and also a feeling of something mystic and special. This is even more true as the viewer, through perspective and backlight, feels like a secretive observer. In the second winning photograph, German photographer Britta Jaschinski, who has been based in London for a long time, documents the brutality against Nature in such an artistic way that the subject attracts almost magical attention. The effect of these two confiscated stools made from elephant feet and zebra skin on a trolley is captivating and depressing at the same time. They are a prime example for the massive demand for wildlife products. Monitoring and controlling international trade with endangered species of wild animals and plants is the goal of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from 1973. In 2017, the implementation of this treaty remains a great challenge as trade is a key threat to the survival of species in the wild. Together, the two winning images help us visualize the vitality and power of Nature, but also her vulnerability. They underscore our responsibility to take care of Nature and to make sure that our children can still enjoy her diversity to the full. Now I would like to invite you to marvel at the award-winning images and allow yourself to be inspired. Each one of the images here has a story to tell, and I would be happy if you also found ways to renew your awareness for the many little nature stories in everyday life.
Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel
President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation