Robert Irwin’s bushfire photo wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Steve Irwin’s son Robert is forging his own career documenting wildlife as an award-winning photographer.

The 17-year-old has followed into the family business as an enigmatic host at the Australia Zoo, but he has also proven to be exceptionally talented behind the lens.

Irwin has won the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award for a striking bird’s-eye-view image capturing the devastating bushfires that tore through Australia 12 months ago.

The image shows a glowing line of fire ripping through dense forest named in honour of his dad, the Steve Irwin Nature Reserve in Far North Queensland, which is an area of conservation significance with more than 30 different ecosystems and home to many endangered species.

The budding photographer was camping in the reserve in early 2020 when the fire began to burn, so he lifted his drone into the sky.

“Unfortunately, fires are quite a common occurrence in this area, and while we were out camping, we saw the telltale sign of a big fire: smoke billowing up out into the horizon,” he said, according to the Natural History Museum.

This particular blaze was deliberately lit, a destructive habit used in that part of the country to flush out feral pigs for hunting.

Robert, who just like his late father, is passionately dedicated to conservation, illustrated the devastation caused by fires in the strikingly clear photo.

“On one side that beautiful, pristine natural habitat and, sadly, the other side is just barren wasteland,” Robert said.

“With the really unusual environmental changes that are occurring all over the world mostly due to climate change, we’re seeing fires really raging out of control.

“Here in Australia, we’ve had a fire season like we’ve never seen before, losing billions of individual animals and millions of acres of precious habitat.”

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