Young Africans are taking the world by storm in different spheres of life. Today, the camera zooms in on a 19-year-old South African photographer, Kgaugelo Neville Ngomane. The teenager was recently announced as the winner of the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year Award. Ngomane beat 4,000 other participants to win the international photography prize. However, his submission will leave you with Goosebumps.
The title of Ngomane’s submission for the international photography prize was ‘Desperate Measures’. The photograph tells the heartbreaking story of rhino dehorning. This is one of the rare images that should get animal rights activists to flinch but it is for a good intention. The judges had this to say about their feeling upon receiving the image.
“When his photo flashed up on the screen, there was a sharp intake of breath around the judging room; it’s such a powerful image.”
Dream come true for the young South African international photographer prize winner
Ngomane learned his photography skills from Wild Shots Outreach. The non-profit organization based in Hoedspruit teaches wildlife photography to young people from poor communities. The priority of the program is on unemployed young people bordering the Kruger Park and high school students from government schools. On learning that he had won the international photography prize, Ngomane said,
“Winning this competition means a lot because I love photography. 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 then support conservation.”
Lack in the midst of abundance
A large proportion of the youths living within the borders of the Kruger Park don’t have access to the park. Mike Kendrick, the founder and director of Wild Shots Outreach put the figure at 99%. Kendrick hopes Ngomane’s international photography prize win will make the people more aware of their environment.
“This award is a fantastic accolade for Neville, for Wild Shots Outreach, for the communities and all the young people I work with. They have developed pride in their images, pride in their stories, pride in themselves and a pride in their natural heritage – a natural heritage which has previously been hard for them to access.”
About the international photography prize
Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) runs the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year Award. The award showcase the best in environmental photography. Consequently, the international photography prize draws attention to how human actions affect the planet negatively. The ‘About Us’ page said,
“We encourage entries that are contemporary, creative, resonant, challenging, original, and beautiful, but most of all, images that will inspire people around the world to start taking care of our environment.”
The dehorning of rhino looks unpleasant. However, Kendrick equates it to cutting one’s fingernails. Eventually, the horn will grow back. The dehorning is an attempt to make poaching of rhinos unattractive. It is indeed a desperate measure.