Some of you may have been following the claims that the winning shot of WPOTY 2009, the leaping wolf, was in fact a captive animal and the shot was staged. The photo was under investigation by the organisers of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and today, they have made the decision to disqualify the winning image by José Luis Rodriguez, who denies the accusation. He has also been given a lifetime ban from the competition. A very sad turn of events and not the outcome that I’m sure was hoped for by anyone! And of course for those who entered and got to the final round of judging (myself included) we have to wonder, what image could have taken the place of this one in the final selection had this not been choosen…?!
**EDIT since posting the article: There is a very good interview about the whole situation with head judge of the competition, Mark Carwardine here.
Also, this link which contains some of the evidence that was investigated.**
The statement below is taken straight from the WPOTY website. Further below is a link to an article
It saddens us to confirm that after a careful and thorough investigation into the image, the storybook wolf, the co-owners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide have disqualified the winning entry of the photographer José Luis Rodríguez. The judging panel was reconvened and concluded that it was likely that the wolf featured in the image was an animal model that can be hired for photographic purposes and, as a result, that the image had been entered in breach of Rule 10 of the 2009 Competition. The judging panel looked at a range of evidence and took specialist advice from panel judges who have extensive experience of photographing wildlife including wolves. They also considered the responses to specific questions put to the photographer José Luis Rodriguez.
The competition rules clearly state that photographs of animal models may not be entered into the competition and that images will be disqualified if they are entered in breach of Rule 10. Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition rules are available to all entrants including versions translated into several languages.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world’s most prestigious photography competition of its kind. Any transgression of the competition rules is taken very seriously and if entries are suspected of breaching the rules they are disqualified. José Luis Rodríguez’s image will be removed from the exhibition and tour.
Mr Rodriguez strongly denies that the wolf in the image is a model wolf.