Tragic image of an orphan macaque wins wildlife photography award


Paul Hilton

ORPHANED and alone, this young pig-tailed has a bleak future ahead. It is one of many captured primates on sale at this open-air bird market in Bali, Indonesia, where it will either become someone’s pet or be sold to a zoo or laboratory for biomedical research.

Conservation photojournalist Paul Hilton feigned interest in purchasing the macaque in order to gain access to the market’s back room to take this shot of it chained to its cage, amid a backdrop of other young macaques in the same situation. Titled Backroom Business, the image won the Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award in this year’s , developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London.


Pig-tailed macaques live in large social groups in the wild, but as deforestation drives them out of their habitat, more and more are being shot as pests when they raid crops for food. Those that are caught are packed closely together in their cages, encouraging the spread of disease. Hilton’s work raises awareness of the plight of these and other wildlife in international commerce, as well as the critical role animal markets play in enabling illegal trade in endangered species.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is on at the Natural History Museum from 16 October to 6 June 2021.

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