Nineteen-year-old Kgaugelo Neville Ngomane has won a prestigious environmental photographic competition.
Ngomane’s powerful image of a rhino dehorning, titled Desperate Measures, was selected from more than 4,000 international entries by the judges, who commended its storytelling and photographic merit.
“When his photo flashed up on screen, there was a sharp intake of breath around the judging room – it’s such a powerful image,” said the judges.
The Young Environmental Photographer of the Year award is run by the international Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
On learning that he’d won, the unemployed teenager from Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, 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.”
Ngomane is a graduate of Wild Shots Outreach, a Hoedspruit-based non-profit organisation that teaches wildlife photography to young people from poor communities. The programme prioritises high school students from government schools and unemployed young people bordering the Kruger Park.
“Despite living right next door to a national park, 99% of these young people have never had access to their natural heritage and have never seen Africa’s iconic wildlife,” said Wild Shots Outreach founder and director Mike Kendrick.
“This award is a fantastic accolade for Neville, for Wild Shots Outreach, for the communities and all the young people I work with,” added Kendrick.
“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.”
He added: “Can we hope that images like Neville’s will capture the imaginations of communities like his, which border the greater Kruger Park? And can photos like this bring people a better understanding of the drastic measures being used to conserve the iconic wildlife which we hold so precious?”
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