/ 2018 / Press / Nature/Environmental


  • Prize
    Bronze in Press/Nature/Environmental
  • Photographer

Seen from above, the Amazon resembles a huge billiards table, a
field of intense green pockmarked by brown stains. These are the
sites of illegal mines, and they reveal the scope of a gold rush that
threatens the lungs of the planet. “The loss of our natural
resources in incalculable” says Antonio Fernandez Jeri, Peru’s high
commissioner on illegal mining. “Each lost hectare represents
unique flora and fauna species”. Those sites are in the Madre de
Dios region, where approximately 150,000 acres of forest have
already been lost due to illegal mining. Peru leads South America
in gold production and ranks fifth globally, but authorities there
say 20 percent of its exported gold, comes from these clandestine
mines. But this mining, which first began in the 1980s, extends
beyond Peru. In every Amazon country, the largest forest in the
world is being slowly eaten away by an explosion of tiny
unreported mines.

Awards Ernesto Benavides is Peruvian documentary photographer working primarily within South America. As a press photographer for the international news agency Agence France-Presse, his work has been published in media such as The New York Times, Grazzia, Brand eins, Le Monde, El País, Private, 6mois, Le Chasse Mare and Leopard. Recently, his work Dredges its being nominated between the 12 finalist for the 2018 Oscar Barnack Leica awards and also won the 2017 IPYS, Peruvian photojournalism award and was included within the Songzhuang Chinese International Photo Biennale. In the same year, he was also awarded second place at the POYLATAM awards with his work, La Pampa, documenting the illegal mining fields of in the Peruvian rain forest. Previously, his photo-book Wanu was presented at the Indira festival in India, won second place in the IPA Awards and was a finalist in the Poyi awards. He has been a winner of the All Roads Photography Program of National Geographic (2011) and the IAPA (Inter American Press Association) awards (2010). He is a founding member of the photographic collective Supayfotos, exhibiting nationally and internationally since 2007. Benavides holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Lima.