2017 Photo Contest, Nature, 1st prize

Rhino Wars


Brent Stirton

Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic

20 May, 2016

A black rhino, poached for its horn, is found dead at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa. It is suspected that the killers came from a local community approximately five kilometers away, entering the park illegally, shooting the rhino at a water hole with a high-powered, silenced hunting rifle.

Demand in Asia for rhino horn—traditionally valued for its medicinal properties—is rising steeply, as increasing prosperity in the region means more people can afford to pay the extremely high prices involved. This puts growing pressure on a species already threatened with extinction. In 2007, South Africa, home to 70 percent of the world’s rhinos, reported losing just 13 to poachers%3B by 2015 that had risen to 1,175. Unlike elephant tusks, rhino horn grows back when cut properly. Rhino rancher John Hume is among those attempting to end the international ban on trading in rhino horn, and to farm rhinos commercially, a move fiercely opposed by conservationists, who say a legal trade could doom rhinos.

About the photographer

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a special correspondent for Getty Images, and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine as well as other international titles.  He speci...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
28.0 mm
Canon EOS-1D X

This image is collected in