There’s a lot happening for the Irwins at the moment: Bindi and Chandler are expecting their first baby to arrive any day and Robert Irwin just landed the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer Of The Year People’s Choice Award. Steve would be proud.
Robert’s award-winning image ‘Bushfire’ was taken near the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York, Queensland – an aerial drone capture of the harrowing bushfires that tore through Australia last year.
The dramatic bird’s eye view and composition show a line of fire splitting the image into a kind of devastating before-and-after shot.
According to a statement, “Robert spotted smoke billowing out in the horizon and knew this was something he had to capture.”
“Flying his drone right into the thick of it all, Robert managed to frame the angry, jagged orange line of the bushfire in the centre, flanked by a pristine natural conservation area on one side and the blackened, smoky remains of the damage on the other”.
Robert took to Instagram to officially share the news, explaining that the driving motive for his photography is to positively impact the environment. The apple doesn’t fall far – as Steve always said, “born a wildlife warrior, die a wildlife warrior.”
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“For me, nature photography is about telling a story to make a difference for the environment and our planet,” he says. “I feel it is particularly special for this image to be awarded, not only as a huge personal honour but also as a reminder of our effect on the natural world and our responsibility to care for it.
“Thank you to all who voted and congratulations to all the shortlisted and finalist photographers. I feel so humbled to win this award among some of the greatest nature photographers in the world”.
Shortlisted to 25 images out of more than 49,000 entries, wildlife photography fans decided Robert’s photos depicted a vital story that needed the spotlight.
The director of London’s Natural History Museum, Dr Doug Gurr, says the image is “both stirring and symbolic” and that he hopes it spurs people into meaningful action.
“Last year the world stood aghast at the devastating wildfires that struck much of Australia, and this photograph depicts just one example of a staggering biodiversity loss caused by the detrimental impacts of climate change, habitat loss and pollution,” he said.
“But it is by no means too late for us to act. I hope those who see this image are enthused to learn more about the problems our natural world faces but also to take action in their daily lives — be it changing dietary or travel habits or even joining a local wildlife volunteering group.”
The winning image, along with the four highly commended photos will be displayed in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London when the Museum reopens. The exhibition will be open until August 1, 2021.
Here is the award-winning image by Australia Zoo’s Robert Irwin, along with the four highly commended:
(All images used with permission via Natural History Museum. Lead image: Robert Irwin / Instagram)