<p>Michael Oryem poses with two elephant tusks that he helped the Ugandan army recover from the <a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/03/186734.htm">Lord’s Resistance Army</a>, an armed group that’s deeply involved with central African elephant poaching.</p>

Brent Stirton, 2nd Prize, Nature Stories

Michael Oryem poses with two elephant tusks that he helped the Ugandan army recover from the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed group that’s deeply involved with central African elephant poaching.

Photograph by Brent Stirton, Getty Images for National Geographic

See National Geographic’s Latest Award-Winning Photos

National Geographic swept the nature stories category of the 59th annual World Press Photo photography contest.

Four National Geographic photographers have been named winners in the World Press Photo Foundation’s 59th annual photography contest, a prestigious competition that honors outstanding photojournalism.

National Geographic Photography Fellow David Guttenfelder was awarded third prize for long term projects for his intimate photographs of life inside North Korea, some of which were featured in National Geographic’s October 2013 photography issue. Guttenfelder negotiated unprecedented access to capture the photos, which he took over seven years and more than 40 trips to the reclusive country.

A trio of National Geographic contributors swept the contest’s nature stories category. Christian Ziegler won third prize for documenting Madagascar’s colorful, threatened chameleons for the September 2015 issue.

That issue’s cover story featured the work of Brent Stirton, who was awarded second prize for documenting how armed groups in Africa fund their operations by smuggling elephant ivory—a network National Geographic uncovered by embedding pieces of fake ivory with GPS trackers.

And wildlife photographer Tim Laman won first prize for his work on wild orangutans and the threats they face, a photography series that will be featured in an upcoming issue of National Geographic.

“It’s a huge honor to have the amazing photographers we work with recognized by one of the most prestigious [contests] in the world,” says National Geographic director of photography Sarah Leen. “Natural history is one of our core areas that we pride ourselves at being the best at.”

A global jury selected the winners from 82,951 photographs submitted by 5,775 photographers from 128 countries. The results were announced Thursday.

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