Posted by:Eric Njiru
Winners of the annual ‘Eye in the Wild’ photography competition by Mabati Rolling Mills were on Monday feted with 47-year-old Salma Shah emerging the Overall Gold Winner for her piece that showed how a common papaya tree can influence environmental beauty and support wildlife.
Managing to beat 538 entries from established and amateur photographers to emerge the Gold Winner, Salma received Kshs. 350,000 as prize money.
Now in its second edition and themed ‘Stop the Chop’, the annual photography competition aims to create awareness on the dwindling forest cover in Kenya and the importance of conservation.
Salome Tarus who emerged the Silver Winner received Kshs 250,000 prize money while Abdulrahman Mutuma took the Bronze Award with a prize money of Kshs 150,000.
During the awards gala, guests and winners planted over 200 indigenous trees at the Karura Forest.
Speaking at the gala, Andrew John Heycott, Mabati Rolling Mills CEO said, “All the photos submitted captured the stark contrast of Kenya’s immense beauty and the devastating impact of climate change and deforestation. As we celebrate today’s winners, may this be a reminder of the work needed to restore and conserve Kenya’s forest cover”.
The judging process this year focused on four main criteria – expression of theme, creativity, composition and photographic quality – and was overseen by a panel of three judges with vast photographic knowledge.
Commenting on the judging process, Gurchorpran Roopra, wildlife photographer and judge said, “We were looking for photographers who best highlighted the beauty in nature and the impact of climate change and we are happy with the talent we saw from all entries”.
Richard Kariuki, an outdoor photographer, won The People’s Choice Award with his photo that depicted a new shoot growing over a felled tree garnering 3,820 unique votes from the public. James Wando also stood out and scooped the Best Under-18 Award. Both received a new Nikon D3500 camera.
“I am delighted to have emerged the Gold Winner in this year’s competition. My strategy was to showcase how we have a very beautiful country that we need to conserve for future generations,” said Salma, the Gold Winner.
The campaign supports sustainable solutions that contribute to forest conservation with a view to protect our natural environment. It focused on four elements – wildlife, water, community and lifestyle and provided a platform for photographers to highlight the beauty in Kenya’s landscape whilst celebrating the best talent.
The top 20 finalists will all attend a photography masterclass with a Nikon expert to learn more about nature photography.