Wolf Photo a Fake?

The Guardian and other news sources are reporting that last year’s winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition may have used a trained wolf for his prizewinning shot.

Photographer José Luis Rodriguez appeared to have captured a wild wolf leaping over a farmer’s fence and a £10,000 prize for his efforts, but the shot is now being called into question. Rival photographers have sent evidence to the organizers of the contest that the wolf in Rodriguez’s photo is actually a trained wolf who resides in a zoological park near Madrid.

A wolf expert has also been consulted and has suggested that the wolf is trained – a wild animal would not jump the gate like this but instead opt to squeeze through the openings in the gate.

Rodriguez is said to be denying any wrongdoing.

When it was originally reported that he had won the competition, Rodriguez explained his means of capturing this perfect moment: a motion-activated camera trap was carefully placed at long-scouted location where the wolf had been observed. A piece of strategically-placed meat coaxed the wolf into his leap and a bit of luck caught the wolf at the apex of his hurdle.

The judges are currently examining the evidence submitted to them and expect to report back on the matter in the new year.

Personally, I’m hoping that it comes to light that there was not wrongdoing. That’s not just for Rodriguez’s sake, but more for the sake of the image. It’s a magical and inspiring shot that would be largely robbed of its charm if Rodriguez’s rival photographers prove their case.

Also, I can’t help but wonder who these photographers are who are putting in the effort to dismantle someone else’s image and what their motivations are. Hopefully we’ll get to hear from all sides of the issue as more details come to light.

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