Stark photo of elephant herd wins Royal Society of Biology competition


A harrowing image of a herd of elephants eating from a rubbish dump in Sri Lanka, by Tilaxan Tharmapalan, has won first prize in this year’s Royal Society of Biology (RSB) photography competition.


The elephants pictured are rummaging for food near a wildlife sanctuary in Ampara District.

The authorities have recently banned the dumping of rubbish near these protected sites where elephants have been known to fall ill and die from eating the waste.

Tharmapalan’s photo was chosen by judges for addressing the competition theme of “Our Changing World”, winning him £1,000 in prize money.

Winner of the RSB’s Young Photographer of the Year was Ashwin Geerthan, 14, also from Sir Lanka.

Geerthan won for his image of cormorants perched on poles left by fishermen, waiting to spot fish in the waters, seen below.


Here are other shortlisted images from the competition, with descriptions by the photographers.

Runner-up: The Boundary of Disaster, by Roberto Bueno in Belize


This straight line represents the border between nature and humanity.

Human impact like this can be seen all over the world with ecosystems going through huge dramatic changes.

Highly commended: Observer, by Agata Boguszewska in Richmond Park, London, UK


Shortlisted: My Shirt, by Hasan Baglar in Nicosia, Cyprus


The grasshopper is shedding its exoskeleton.

It will do this a number of times as it changes and grows during its lifetime.

Shortlisted: Young Volunteers, by Froi Rivera in Cavite, Philippines


Three volunteers are seen happy and content during their tree-planting activity.

Shortlisted: The Olive Journey, by Saurabh Chakraborty in Rushikulya, Odisha, India


Almost every year in Rushikhulya, Odisha, one of the most spectacular events in nature takes place.

Thousands of Olive ridley sea turtles come to this coastal region to lay eggs.

Shortlisted: Greenhouse, by Jonathan Jimenez in Gant, Belgium


The image of an abandoned 19th Century greenhouse shows how nature can reclaim and transform structures left by humans.

Young Photographer of the Year, runner-up: The World is a Good Place, by Charlotte Bean in Brookmans Park, England, UK


We tend to focus on the bad changes that occur in the world around us, yet so much positivity can be found if we look in the right places.

Here, the young goslings are making the first steps into their world.

Highly commended: End of a Thousand Dreams, by Saptarshi Gayen in Singur, Hooghly, West Bengal, India


As extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, it is important to recognise the impact they have, not just on humans but also on the rest of nature.

Two baby baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus) had fallen out of their nest and died following a cyclone.

Shortlisted: Silent Noon, by Rosie Tarboton in Claygate, Surrey, UK


Changes occur all the time in nature, they are part of every organism’s life cycle.

This is very clearly seen in creatures such as dragonflies who undergo metamorphosis, as they completely transform during their lifetime as they grow.

Shortlisted: Ischmeer Glacier, by Rory Stringer in the Swiss Alps


In the 1800s, the entire gorge was covered in ice.

Today, the glacier has retreated so much it has resulted in many problems such as unstable rock.

The world around us continues to change – who knows what things will look like in years to come?

All pictures are subject to copyright.

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