Spanish photographer José Luis Rodriguez recently received the prestigious winning title as the Veolia Environment Wildlife photographer of the year, along with £10,000 (about
$20,000 $16,000) in prize money for his image, Storybook Wolf. The photograph depicts a rare, Iberian wolf hopping a fence to enter a corral where the photographer had placed meat to attract the animal.
However, rival photographers along with a wolf expert allege that the shot was set up, suggesting that the wolf would not naturally jump over the fence, but would be more likely to squeeze through the openings. Additionally, they allege that Rodriguez may have used a captive, tame wolf from a zoological park near Madrid, and trained the animal to hop the fence until he got the shot.
The contest prohibits use of a captive animal unless specified in the description, and the judges noted they would give preference to photos of natural wild animals.
The description that ran with photographer Rodriguez’s image explain the painstaking efforts he made to get the shot, baiting the wolf with meat, camping out and anticipating its entry into the corral.
Now, the photographer not only has prize money and the winning title at stake, but now his reputation as a photographer is on the line as judges decide the image authenticity during the next few weeks. However, the Guardian quotes contest judge Rosamund Kidman Cox, who said,
But until one bit of evidence can be verified I don’t think it’s possible to accuse the photographer of cheating. [...] It’s not 100%.
(via The Guardian)
Image credit: Storybook Wolf by José Luis Rodriguez