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The 2024 PA2F Environmental Photography Award showed Nature victory over Human.

Updated: 3 days ago

Since 2021, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2F) has ben setting up a photo contest putting first creativity and eco-awareness efficiency to foster natural beauty contemplation and a more balanced coexistence between Nature and Human Beings. This year's PA2F Environmental Photography Award develops through the usual five categories with even more dedication and enthusiasm. Five finalists have been selected by a Technical Jury from more than 11,000 images by 2,600 professional and amateur photographers worldwide. Polar Wonders, Into the Forest, Ocean Worlds, Humanity versus Nature, Change Makers: Reasons for Hope are the proposed themes meant as drivers of a visual storytelling to tackle prior issues like biodiversity, climate mitigation and ocean preservation.

In his keynote speech, Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, highlighted the essential role of art and culture to provide the public with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge while amusing themselves. Being aware about prior environmental topics and possible science-based solutions is crucial to take action properly.

On the 5th June 2024, the Foundation unveiled the best photos of this edition within an iconic celebration held at the Larvotto Beach Promenade where they are on display until the 30th July 2024. "See No Evil" (Category: Humanity vs Nature) by Aaron Gekoski, internationally renowned photojournalist and film director, focused on conflicts between Animals and Humans, reached the podium for its extraordinary capacity to attract empathy at first sight.

« At Safari World in Bangkok, orangutans have been used in shows for decades. Every day, they are forced to perform in front of an audience that pays to see them. After the shows, they stoically wait for tourists to take photos with them. Beneath the glittering exterior lies a dark world of illegal activity and animal abuse. (...) For about five years, I have been working on a documentary named 'Eyes of the Orangutan', the first investigative film devoted to the world of wildlife tourism involving orangutans. The aim is to make people think twice before visiting places like Safari World. Because if we can treat one of our closest living relatives in this way, what hope is there for other species? », pointed out Aaron Gekoski.

The winning photo shoot puts us in front of the artificial humanization of nature. Here threfore that orangutans are disguised according to human standards for the pure exploitation of its image for the commercial purposes of the amusement park. The resulting message is anything but environmental by distorting the essence of this emblematic primate with a shy character that shares with mankind 97% of its DNA.

Exhausted by the effort to have to perform for hours and hours, these poor creatures have been endangered putting them at risk. This brethtaking photo showcases the contrast between the seemingly carefree image of Ning Ning (24 year-old female orangutan) and the sad story behind it. Young orangutans, in fact, are often captured in the wild after killing their mothers. They are then trained through cruel methods, including physical violence and food deprivation. Finally, when they get too old to perform as clowns, they are locked in cages for the rest of their lives. An inhuman practice that encourages the illicit trafficking of wildlife.

"See No Evil" was taken on a professional mission for the American NGO Lady Freethinker. Therefore, Gekoski has achieved a thorough knowledge of the exploitation of tropical primates kept in captivity out of pure economic exploitation. Within the ceremony, the British award-winning photographer was given a total scholarship of 6,000 € and a voucher with the aim to stay at the SEK International University (Ecuador) while carrying out a research in the Amazon rainforest.

The Technical Jury, made of Javier Aznar, National Geographic wildlife photographer, Jasper Doest, conservation and wildlife photographer, Esther Horvath, National Geographic climate-change photographer fond of Polar Regions, Britta Jaschinski, photojournalist specialised in crimes against nature, Alexa Keefe, Associate Photo Editor for National Geographic Magazine, Steve Winter, documentary photojournalist attracted by big cats, and the support of Sergio Pitamitz, wildlife and conservation photographer within National Geographic Expeditions, had no doubts in deciding the winner. But each category had its coup de cœur.

Public Award 2024 and runner-up "Change Makers: Reasons for Hope"

Winner in the "Polar Wonders" category

Winner in the "Into the forest" category

Winner in the "Ocean Worlds" category

Winner in the "Change Makers: Reasons for Hope" category

Alex Mustard, President of the 2024 Technical Jury, underwater photographer and marine biologist, in his keynote speech concluded : « Photography, both powerful and accessible, is bursting into our lives through books, magazines, prints or on our screens. When it comes to the Natural World, we know that people are more inclined to protect what they know and love. That is why we (photographers) have a vital role to play in informing the public, providing new knowledge and sharing our emotions and unique experiences. (...)

That's why we are confident that the selected photos will strike a chord with viewers: they highlight the diversity and beauty of our planet's wild places, and above all they bear witness to the disasters that human beings are creating in Nature and the hope that lies in the many positive actions taken around the world ».

The travelling photo exhibition and the accompanying promotional publication is going to convey powerful environmental messages in Monaco and other relevant spots throughout Europe and worldwide. The PA2F Environmental Photography Award reaffirms its role as key annual event. The 2025 Contest photo selection will be driven from September the 3rd to November the 3rd, 2024. ***

MonacoEcoArt keeps its journalism open to all although its information is the result of pure professionalism and knowledge. Supporting our Media allows us to keep our independence while offering quality contents based on traceable sources. Thank you for your collaboration.

By Maurice Abbati

Journalist; Editor; Communication, Media and Public Relations Specialist

Lecturer and Author in English language of Technical Articles and the Manual: "Communicating the Environment to Save the Planet, a Journey into Eco-Communication" by Springer International Publishing.

Cover page of PhD manual by Maurice Abbati


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