Photographer captures award-winning image of ranger and dog

Posted by Anita Froneman on 1 December 2020

A picture is worth a thousand words. The overall winner of the Photo of the Year People’s Choice Award is aptly titled ‘Unbreakable Bond’ and perfectly portrays the unique relationship of a working dog and its handler.

In the picture, taken by Sam Turley from AfricaLiving, two members of Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservancy’s Anti-Poaching K9 unit come together and embrace after a long, grueling training session.

The Wilderness Safaris Photo Competition raised a whopping R250,000 (USD$16,300), which will be used towards protecting wildlife from poaching.

Here’s the story behind the photo:

‘Murwi is Imire’s first Anti-Poaching dog. She met Learnmore, her handler, in April 2018. Learnmore had never handled a working dog before and for Murwi, this was her first experience of an African landscape. A new venture for both, their connection was instantaneous,’ Turley said.

After two years of working together, there is an undeniable bond between the two. Watching them work, they appear to communicate telepathically. Few words are spoken but mutual understanding and trust remains.

This particular training exercise comprised of a 15km track, a short helicopter ride and ended with a poacher simulation in which Murwi had to immobilise the poacher and Learnmore made the arrest.

Having witnessed their incredible bond on a number of occasions, I was desperately seeking an image which conveyed this unique relationship.

After any training exercise, it’s play time. Learnmore and Murwi, although exhausted, were both ecstatic at the result. I had seen how elated they had both been after previous training sessions and so I poised myself ready for their loving embrace.

As they came together, I started to take photos and managed to capture this beautiful moment of genuine affection between man and dog.

The connection between man and dog has been recognised for millennia and I hope that my image, Unbreakable Bond, encapsulates this remarkable relationship in all it’s glory.

Here is the award-winning image:

And here are some other images of Learnmore and Murwi:




To help support the incredible work of Learnmore and Murwi, please consider purchasing a copy of ‘Unbreakable Bond’. 100% of all profits will go directly to Imire’s Anti-Poaching Unit.

To order your copy, visit

Pictures: Sam Turley/AfricaLiving

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