Harrowing image of injured elephant wins Environmental Photographer of the Year

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation 2023 Environmental Photography Award
Fight to the Death, Overall winner and 1st place in the "Humanity versus Nature" category (Image credit: Jasper Doest)

The third edition of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation's Environmental Photography Award has come to a close and this year’s grand prize winner is Dutch photographer Jasper Doest. Taking home the coveted title of Environmental Photographer of the Year 2023, the young photographer will also receive a grant of €5,000/$5,458 plus the opportunity to visit the University of Ecuador’s Amazon Research Station in the heart of the Ecuadorian jungle plus an invitation to the awards ceremony in Monaco. 

His winning image titled Fight to the Death shows a gripping scene of an elephant battling for survival after being hit by a freight train in the Gabon Lopé National Park. The elephant pictured in this image suffered a broken hip and sadly later died but its meat was distributed to the park’s local community. As gruesome as the image is, it shows the devastating effects human infrastructure has on wildlife which is why it was also awarded first place in the human versus nature category. 

 • Check out the best cameras for wildlife photography so you can capture animals in their natural habitat

My Kingdom - 1st place in the “Ocean Worlds” category (Image credit: Simon Biddie)

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation 2023 Environmental Photography Award

Airborne - 1st place in the “Change Makers: Reasons for Hope” category (Image credit: Marcus Westberg)

In the hope the image will inspire change and force people to take responsibility, Doest commented, “As I recall this gruesome scene along the railway, I am haunted not only by the tragedy that occurred as the elephant needed to be killed after the accident, but mainly by the larger story of human greed that underlies it–there is a railway that runs through a National Park, primarily for the purpose of transporting a valuable mineral.”

This year's competition received an overwhelming response, with over 2,300 photographers from across the globe submitting a staggering 10,000 images. These entries were meticulously evaluated by a prestigious panel of professional photographers across five categories: Polar Wonders, Into the Forest, Ocean Worlds, Humanity Versus Nature, and Change Makers: Reasons for Hope. In addition to these categories, the Public Award, chosen through over 5,000 public votes, and the Students' Award, determined by high school students in Monaco, added an extra layer of recognition. In total a prize fund of €11,000 (roughly $12,007) was awarded to the winning photographers. 

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation 2023 Environmental Photography Award

Predator versus Predator - 3rd place in the “Into the Forest” category (Image credit: Clément Fontaine)

Sergio Pitamitz, the president of the jury, emphasized the significance of photography as a powerful tool in giving voice to threatened wildlife and biodiversity. He commended the Environmental Photography Award for providing a platform for photographers to not only showcase their captivating images but also convey essential conservation messages. Pitamitz also expressed admiration for the competition's steadfast commitment to preserving the environment and the diverse living world.

For those who wish to witness these thought-provoking images firsthand, the exhibition can be visited on the Promenade du Lavotto in Monaco before it sets off on a global exhibition. To view the full selection of winning images, head to the Photocrowd website.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.