Daily Picture Show

Award-Winning Photos Reveal Asia's Animal Trade

Each year, for the past 46 years, London's Natural History Museum has teamed up with BBC Wildlife Magazine to award the world's best nature photography. Last week, winners were announced in all traditional categories — and in a new category: wildlife photojournalist of the year. It went to Mark Leong for his series, "It's Just An Animal," which gives a haunting picture of illegal wildlife trade in Asia. The six submitted photos are excerpted from a longer story in National Geographic's January issue.

Advisory: Some of these photographs are not suitable for all audiences.

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    Orangutans confiscated from circuses, sideshows and private owners in Kalimantan, Indonesia, are taken in by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation as orphans. They go to "forest school" in the rainforest, where they can practice skills such as climbing and learn which plants are edible.
    Mark Leong/National Geographic
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    Every day, workers in Sumatra slaughter and skin hundreds of reptiles brought to them by trappers. The dried skins are sold to the international leather-goods industry, to be made into luxury and fashion items such as wallets, belts and boots.
    Mark Leong/National Geographic
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    Wild-caught animals such as this young long-tailed macaque are illegally sold as pets at the Jatinegara Bird and Pet Market in Jakarta, West Java. To stop them from biting their owners, macaques have their teeth blunted.
    Mark Leong/National Geographic
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    Bear bile is a highly valued medicine in China, used as a remedy for impotence, liver disease and hangovers. Near Hanoi, Vietnam, a sedated Asiatic bear is kept for this purpose of being illegally pumped for bile.
    Mark Leong/National Geographic
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    Every day, animals at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Park in China perform in circus-style shows. The park, which owns more than 400 bears and 1,300 tigers, claims to be working for conservation by keeping them safe in captivity. DNA tests on food from the park restaurant subsequently revealed that it was illegally serving tiger meat.
    Mark Leong/National Geographic

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The contest website says:

"Mark's reportage captures the ignorance, apathy, corruption and cruelty that sustain this multi-billion-dollar industry. 'The hardest challenge conservation bodies face', [Leong] says, 'is the widespread "its only an animal" mindset that so many people have.' "

See more photos on National Geographic's website.

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