As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, the African Wildlife Foundation just launched the Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition. The exhibition displays the winners of a worldwide competition that received almost 9,000 entries from 50 different countries. If you're a fan of wildlife photography, this exhibition is worth a look.
The awards are named after the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa. Mkapa was a lifelong conservation leader and one of African Wildlife Foundation's longest-serving board members.
The primary goal of the Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards is to engage and involve photographers from Africa and around the world in a bid to engage audiences in documenting the conservation of wildlife and wildlands in Africa. Given the pace of the ongoing destruction of wildlands and poaching of wildlife in Africa, these awards and their intentions are critical.
The African Wildlife Photography Awards named 16 winning photographers. Riccardo Marchegiani won the grand prize for his image, Gelada and Baby, shot in the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia. Marchegiani won $5,000 (USD), a feature interview with Nature's Best Photography, and a headlining spot in the magazine's special edition devoted to the awards.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Marchegiani said that his "...objective is to raise awareness and encourage conservation in a more sustainable lifestyle."
Each of the category winners received a $1,000 (USD) prize and a feature in Nature's Best Photography's special awards edition.
African Wildlife Foundation's Country Director: Kenya, Nancy Githaiga said: “Our 60 years in conservation have shown us just what success can look like. We have seen the continent weather the worst poaching crisis of our lifetime and come out on the other side bruised but still fighting. Conservation interventions have brought back key wildlife species from the brink of extinction, including the black rhino and the elephant, and helped to raise awareness for struggling species such as the giraffe, which is often overlooked but has been disappearing before our eyes."
There is no doubt that the situation for African wildlife is bleak, but the stand taken by African Wildlife Foundation is admirable and something we should all be paying attention to.
The Africa in Motion award was won by Olli Teirilä for his video Magical Masasai Mara:
All images used courtesy of Mkapa Awards and the credited photographers.