Desperate Measures: CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of the Year captures drastic wildlife conservation action

Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management has awarded its Young Environmental Photographer of the Year to Kgaugelo Neville Ngomane, who is a recent participant of the Canon & Wild Shots Outreach (WSO) Young People Programme.

The “Desperate Measures” photo that Neville won the competition for was taken as part of a collaborative project between Canon’s Young People Programme (YPP), which provides young people photography tools and skills to voice issues affecting their future, and WSO, a South African charity engaging and educating young people on the importance of wildlife conservation and nature through photography.

As part of the initiative, conservationist Mike Kendrick, WSO founder & director, works with young unemployed people and high school students from government schools bordering the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Many of these young people have never had the opportunity to see wild animals in real life or visited the park even though they live on its doorstep.

Mike explains: “The Canon YPP partnership with Wild Shots Outreach is enabling young South Africans living on the borders of wildlife reserves to experience their natural heritage for the first time. These young people are able to photograph iconic species and tell their stories around this incredible experience in their own images.

The resulting photos are then exhibited in their communities so that these stories can be shared with friends, family and community members. The young people from the YPP have developed pride in their images, in their stories, in themselves and a pride in their natural heritage, which has previously been hard for them to access.”

“Desperate Measures” was taken at a dehorning operation. Discussing his photo, Neville, said: “It wasn’t 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 it will make them support their conservation.”

The photo was picked 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.”

Michelle Janse van Vuuren, Canon South Africa said: “This award is a positive step in the uplifting of individuals like Neville and their local communities. Step by step, although small, Canon South Africa is enjoying becoming a bigger part of these programmes and looks forward to the opportunity to do it again.”

Canon’s Young People Programme is an initiative giving young people a visual voice through dedicated workshops and photography skills training.