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Heartbreaking rhino image tops wildlife photography awards

A devastating view of a rhino wins the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and is joined by stunning images of elephants, bears and birds.

Photojournalist Brent Stirton captured the horrific and moving image shortly after the rhino's death at the hands of poachers.

Brent Stirton/Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic Magazine

Sometimes we need talented photographers to help open our eyes to the world's wonders and sorrows. The Natural History Museum of London announced the results of its 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition on Tuesday and every single winner is an eye opener.

The overall winning image comes from photojournalist Brent Stirton, who contributes to National Geographic and Getty Images. It shows a dehorned black rhinoceros at the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Black rhinos are critically endangered. The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are only around 5,000 left due to devastation from poachers seeking their horns.

Competition judge Roz Kidman Cox says the photo is "symbolic of one of the most wasteful, cruel and unnecessary environmental crimes, one that needs to provoke the greatest public outcry." 

The judges chose Stirton's image from nearly 50,000 entries from 92 countries. It will go on display at the Natural History Museum starting on Oct. 20 and later become part of a traveling exhibit that will visit the US, Australia and other locations around the globe.

Stirton's image is joined by a stunning selection of category winners covering everything from an anteater snacking on a termite mound to a fox leaping into the snow. See some of the other top wildlife photos from this year's competition below.