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© Stijn Dijkstra, first-place winner of A Better Future for Animals photo contest by Pexels and the International Fund for Animal Welfare

While visiting Moalboal in Cebu in the Philippines, the photographer Stijn Dijkstra embarked on a boat to the tiny island of Pescador. He saw countless colors while exploring reefs teeming with life. Ultimately, he happened upon a shimmering turtle, its belly full of sardines. Dijkstra is a passionate advocate for protecting our oceans, and this encounter served as an enduring reminder of what’s at stake for animals and ecosystems around the world. 

As the first-place winner of a creative photo contest by Pexels in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Dijkstra will exhibit his work as part of a special Earth Day event in Beijing, Sydney, Melbourne, and Vancouver, alongside images made by photographers spanning the globe. The exhibitions are part of a groundbreaking partnership between Pexels, a leading free stock photo and video community, and IFAW, a global non-profit helping animals and people across more than forty countries. 

Since the announcement of the collaboration, more than 25,000 images and videos have been donated to support the vital work done by IFAW, whose projects include the rescue of wild animals affected by bushfires, marine pollution, and other crisis, as well as wildlife crime prevention across countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa, and move. Over 4,400 photographers have donated their work to support wildlife. 

IFAW has also made a library of photographs of their work available to the public through Pexels, where you can see how their team works to rescue, rehabilitate, and release elephants, koalas, wallabies, wombats, dolphins, owls, lizards and more. “If viewing these images compels just one person to learn more about IFAW and join us in our mission to create a world for animals and people to thrive, that’s success,” Stacie Paxton Cobos of IFAW told Pexels earlier this year.  

© Mohammad Mirza, second-place winner of A Better Future for Animals photo contest by Pexels and the International Fund for Animal Welfare

As part of the recent photo challenge, titled A Better Future for Animals, three photographers received cash prizes, with $1,000 going to Dijkstra and $500 going to both the second and third-place winners. On the Kuwait seaside, second-place winner Mohammad Mirza flew his drone, creating an abstract aerial view over a herd of flamingos. Third-place winner Ishara Kasthuriarachchi highlights the clasped hands of two orangutans, a species threatened by the destruction of the rainforest, logging and palm oil plantations. 

© Ishara Kasthuriarachchi, third-place winner of A Better Future for Animals photo contest by Pexels and the International Fund for Animal Welfare

One hundred photographs have been spotlighted in a collection of the top submissions. A portrait by Twilight Kenya brings us behind-the-scenes at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, where people work to protect and rescue elephants orphaned by poaching or human-animal conflict. Meanwhile, from his window in Cremorne Point in New South Wales, Gilberto Olimpio spotted a Australian King-Parrot. Browse the collection, and you’ll spot a fennec fox, a spiny echidna, and an African penguin. 

© Twilight Kenya
© Clive Kim

To coincide with Earth Day, a selection of photographs will be displayed in large digital and print formats in Beijing’s Vanke Time Square, the luxury co-working space Work Club Global in Sydney and Melbourne, and the downtown Vancouver business district. All prints will be provided by Canva Print. “IFAW relies on compelling visuals to tell our story,” Paxton Cobos says. “These images deliver 25,000 opportunities to connect with someone and inspire them to join our team as we build a world where animals and people can thrive together.” You can learn more about IFAW by visiting their website.

© Gilberto Olimpio
© Stijn Dijkstra, first-place winner of A Better Future for Animals photo contest by Pexels and the International Fund for Animal Welfare
© Clive Kim
© Petr Ganaj
© Gabriele Brancati
© Mateus Rauber
© Anna Perkas
© Zhanna Fort

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