London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) has removed a winning photo from the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPOY) 2017 contest.
‘The Night Raider’ photograph shows an anteater on a termite mound in Ema National Park, Brazil. It had been chosen as the winner of the Animals in their Environment category (Click here to see the overall winner).
Third party evidence presented to the NHM suggested the animal in the image was ‘highly likely’ to be a taxidermy specimen and a thorough investigation followed.
A taxidermy specimen that is kept at the visitor centre on the reserve was independently reviewed by five scientists who concluded that the anteater in the photograph and the taxidermy anteater were the same.
“I find it disheartening and surprising that a photographer would go to such lengths to deceive the competition and its worldwide following,” says WPOY judge Roz Kidman Cox, and a former editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
“The competition places great store on honesty and integrity, and such a breach of the rules is disrespectful to the wildlife-photography community, which is at the heart of the competition.”
Marcio Cabral, who took the image, rejects the accusations that the scene was faked and plans to contest the disqualification.
Cabral supplied RAW images to the NHM that were taken before and after his competition photo but did not include the anteater.
“Unfortunately, I do not have another image of the animal because it is a long exposure of 30 seconds and ISO 5000,” he says.
“After the flashes were fired, the animal left the place, so it was not possible to make another photo with the animal coming out of the place that is totally dark.”
Cabral says that the he would not have had access to the model, as the centre is locked at night and is guarded.
Main image: The image of an anteater had been chosen as the winner of the Animals in their Environment category. © Marcio Cabral