Nature photography awards: Teenager wins top prize with image highlighting extinction

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Nature photography awards: Teenager wins top prize with image highlighting extinction

Lucy Hutton’s touching homage to the famous Pinta Island Galapagos tortoise, once dubbed the rarest creature on Earth, has been selected as overall winner in this year’s RSPCA Young Photographer Awards The cleverly taken shot shows the preserved remains of Lonesome George in a classic pose at the Charles Darwin Research Centre in the Galapagos where the specimen is kept in a temperature-controlled room. Solitario George, as he is known in Spanish, died six year ago at the grand age of 102, and, with his demise, an entire species’ bloodline died out.

Lucy’s striking image was chosen as the overall winner from 4,700 photographs entered into this year’s prestigious annual awards, and today she explained why she is proud to have taken the thought-provoking image.

The 17 year old from Northumberland said: “I’m so happy that my picture won. I am passionate about the conservation of endangered species and I believe that George’s body is a powerful reminder to humankind as to how our actions can be devastating to animals. 

“It was quite a challenge to get this shot. I only had six minutes to get a photo without people in it, so just before we had to move on, I ran to the back of the room hoping to get the shot I’d imagined. And I did.”

Chris Packham, himself an accomplished photographer, was one of the judges and explained why Lucy’s photograph was the pick of the crop.

He said: “This photo of Lonesome George really stood out to all of us as it was a very powerful winning image. It told the story of species extinction through the tragic tale of an iconic creature which is recognised across the world.   

“Taken in black and white, and by someone so young, really increased its impact. The picture was very graphic, beautifully composed and was a stark reminder of the impact that humans can have on the natural world.”

Young photographers aged up to 19 entered images in nine categories, spread across three different age groups, and the winners were today awarded with their prizes at a Tower of London ceremony hosted by the Springwatch presenter.

Another remarkable image that caught the judges’ eyes was “the fountain of life” captured by Sophie Bramall, 17, from Stafford, which framed her pet cat enjoying a spray of water. It was runner up in the Picture Perfect Pets section.

Ollie Ross, also 17, from High Peak, Derbyshire, came top in the category with his “Leap of Faith” entry, capturing beautifully the moment a dog catches a tennis ball.

An image titled “Best Friends” earned 11 year old Millie Rodgers from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, a Judges’ Special Mention with the way she framed a superb close up next to her dog Willow.

Commenting on the strength of the competition, Mr Packham added:  “It’s nice to see so many creative photos of people’s pets and a range of wildlife in such a strong competition. It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, showing that the photographer has been really innovative. 

“The fantastic images we have seen this year range from creatures in the desert and pets at play to animals just getting on with their life in the wild. The competition is a great way for young people to go out and experience the environment around them. 

“There are some beautiful pictures in this year’s winners’ gallery, with real talent shining through. This year’s entrants have been really creative and that is what we wanted to see.”

For a full gallery of the winning images please visit:  https://young.rspca.org.uk/ypa/galleries

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