Wildlife Photography Contest Disqualifies Winner For Doctoring Elephant’s Ears

The winner of a photography contest has been disqualified after he was accused of manipulating his shot.


Photographer Björn Persson has been stripped off the title of African Geographic’s ‘2019 Photographer of the Year’ after he was discovered to have digitally altered the ears of a Kenyan elephant.

The entry, titled Tim in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, shows gentle giant ‘Tim’ grazing in a field with dark clouds above him.

The award was given to Persson, but subsequently taken back after the publication’s community members noticed something was off.

Those who had knowledge of ‘Tim’ understood that some parts of the elephant’s ears were damaged, as seen in a photo captured by Selengei Poole-Granli.

However, the image taken by Perrson showed that the damaged areas were “healed.” According to African Geographic, the publication noted the photographer’s had performed post-production work on the image, which was deemed acceptable as it added a “mystical dimension to ‘Tim’,” but the judges did not notice the alterations of the elephant’s ears.

When they confronted Persson about the matter, he explained that the manipulation was accidental, and it occurred during editing.

The publication then disqualified the photographer after the post-production work did not “accurately reflect” the “rips/tears in the ears of the elephant” despite his claim of the edits being unintentional.

The rules of the contest stated that “entries should be a faithful representation of the original scene” and its objective was to “never deceive the viewer.”