European Wildlife Photographer of the Year's Ghostly Photos of Disappearing Species

ghostly cheetah britta jaschinski photo

"Ghostly Cheetah" by Britta Jaschinski

While runners-up came eye-to-eye with a baby sea turtle or captured a crystal-clear picture of a bird scooping up a fish for dinner, the winning image in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 contest was neither close-up or sharp. Instead, it was a dark, atmospheric portrait highlighting the vulnerability of the cheetah, an animal "endangered due to loss of habitat, reduced prey, and direct persecution," according to photographer Britta Jaschinski, who took the picture following a huge bush fire in Ndutu, Tanzania."As in many of my images, the animal looks like a ghost. Like a creature which only exists in our memory, as if they are already extinct and now haunting us, pricking our conscience," Jaschinski wrote of her winning entry in the contest, which is organized by the Society of German Nature Photographers (Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen).

Photographs Of Captive Animals
The photography website Lens Culture has a slideshow of Jaschinski's work -- ghostly black-and-white images of rhinos, monkeys, giraffes and other creatures taken with a 25-year-old film camera. Her previous work has included a sad, sympathetic look at captive animals, while she plans next to photograph polar bears in the Canadian Arctic.

"[The cheetah's] vigilance seems almost tangible, the source of it remaining unknown to the observer. A certain amount of confusion may also be read in his eyes," Professor Beate Jessel, the president of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, wrote about Jaschinski's winning photograph. "[I]t is a photograph that allows your imagination to draw up many interpretations: What has startled this animal, which is according to the Red List, an endangered species? Is it the presence of people, maybe even poachers, or other animals? To me this picture brings home the responsibility we humans have for the creation."

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