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The 2012 World Press Photo Exhibition is currently being showcased in Luanda, the capital city of Angola, after which it will travel to the remaining chosen 45 countries on a world tour.

For over 55 years the World Press Photo Contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism, with an archive of winning images recording more than half a century of natural and human history.

Here are a selection of photographs, taken of African subjects, that won the 2012 contest:

1. 1st prize Nature Stories, Brent Stirton, South Africa. Reportage by Getty Images for National Geographic magazine. “Rhino Wars”, Mount Kenya, Kenya, 13 July 2011.

An anti-poaching team guards a northern white rhino, part of a 24-hour watch, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The park is home to four of the world’s remaining eight northern white rhinos, the world’s most endangered animal. Despite the fact that rhinoceros horn is illegal worldwide, demand is rising steeply as a newly wealthy Asian middle class is able to afford the prized substance, previously the province of the rich. Authorities are often bribed, or turn a blind eye to illegal trade in, and use of rhino horn. Ground rhino horn is used primarily as an anti-fever and anti-toxin medication, in practices that go back centuries. In Vietnam, where a senior government minister has claimed that rhino horn cured his cancer, it sells for €1,865 per 100g to local customers, and for over €6,340 to foreign buyers. With rhinoceros horn worth more than gold, the animals are the target of poachers. South Africa alone lost over 400 rhinos to illegal poaching in 2011. It is estimated there are only 16,000 rhinos left in the world, and the animal faces extinction.

1st prize Nature Stories  Brent Stirton, South Africa, Reportage by Getty Images for National Geographic magazine “Rhino Wars”, Mount Kenya, Kenya, 13 July 2011

2. 2nd prize Arts and Entertainment Singles, Vincent Boisot, France, Riva Press for Le Figaro Magazine. “Dakar fashion week”, Dakar, Senegal, 9 July 2011.

A model poses in front of a tailor’s stall in the center of Dakar, Senegal during the ninth edition of the Dakar Fashion Week. She is wearing a dress by US-based Senegalese designer Yolande Ngom Mancini. The Fashion Week began in 2003, as a private venture without government support, at the initiative of former model turned designer Adama Paris and has become a leading showcase for design from across the continent.

2nd prize Arts and Entertainment Singles  Vincent Boisot, France, Riva Press for Le Figaro Magazine “Dakar fashion week”, Dakar, Senegal, 9 July 2011

3. 1st prize Nature Stories, Brent Stirton, South Africa. Reportage by Getty Images for National Geographic magazine. “Rhino Wars”, Klerksdorp, North West Province, South Africa, 25 March 2011

A man holds up the horn of a white rhino, which has been removed by a vet, to help protect the animal by poachers. Despite the fact that rhinoceros horn is illegal worldwide, demand is rising steeply as a newly wealthy Asian middle class is able to afford the prized substance, previously the province of the rich. Authorities are often bribed, or turn a blind eye to illegal trade in, and use of rhino horn. Ground rhino horn is used primarily as an anti-fever and anti-toxin medication, in practices that go back centuries. In Vietnam, where a senior government minister has claimed that rhino horn cured his cancer, it sells for €1,865 per 100g to local customers, and for over €6,340 to foreign buyers. With rhinoceros horn worth more than gold, the animals are the target of poachers. South Africa alone lost over 400 rhinos to illegal poaching in 2011. It is estimated there are only 16,000 rhinos left in the world, and the animal faces extinction.

RHINO WARS  25 March 2011 Klerksdorp, North West Province, South Africa Brent Stirton

4. Daily Life, 2nd prize singles, Johnny Haglund. “A mouthful“, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, 27 April 2011.

A young Wagenya girl catches fish using an age-old method, diving into rapids on the Congo River with a net, and holding her catch in her mouth, as that is most certain to prevent its escape. The Wagenya live at a point in the river—near the city of Kisangani in northern Democratic Republic of Congo—where rock banks create a series of cataracts. They have been a fishing people for generations.

Daily Life, 2nd prize singles, Johnny Haglund

Find out more about the World Press Photo Contest

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I’m Holly - born and raised in the rural British Counties, my mother began life on a sugar farm in Zululand. After reading Anthropology at university in London, working for a political activist filmmaker in India, and doing a short stint under the bright lights of Bollywood – I decided it was time to return to the motherland. To earn a crust in the name of wanderlust, I finished up a post grad in media and hotfooted around South Africa as a freelance travel journalist.