Landscape / Nature | Winner

Sandra Hoyn


Displaced by Palm Oil: Indonesias last Orangutans


Indonesia supplies half the world's palm oil, used in hundreds of food and cosmetic products as well as biofuel. Palm oil plantations are replacing four-fifths of the rainforest in Indonesia and they are still expanding. In April 2014, I documented the disappearing Sumatran rainforest and life affected by rapid deforestation in Indonesia.

Orangutans are one of the many victims of massive deforestation. They live in the wild in only two places: Sumatra and Borneo. Both species are now endangered. There are only 6,600 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild with fewer than 54,000 orangutans left in Borneo. Especially the unchecked burning of rainforests to clear land for palm oil plantations is driving orangutans to the brink of extinction in Indonesia.

A crucial component of my trip was spending time with rescued orangutans at a quarantine centre of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. At the centre, I got to know Angelo, a 14-year-old orangutan, and Siboy, a one-year-old orangutan. Angelo was found with airgun metal pellets embedded in his body. He was shot by workers when he ventured into a palm oil plantation looking for food. Siboy was found for sale on a market in Aceh before he was rescued. Baby orangutans are coveted as pets, although their sale is illegal and obtaining one usually entails killing its mother. Staff at the SOCP built him a crib out of tree limbs and cloth. They communicate through body language. The staff members at the SOCP centre take care of rescued orangutans, rehabilitate them and prepare them to be reintroduced into life in the wild.


Sandra Hoyn was born in 1976 and studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg. She still lives in the city, where she works as a freelance photojournalist. She received the Henri Nannen Award in 2013. Following this, her work was featured in prominent newspapers and magazines (Die Zeit, Zeit Campus, Chrismon, Der Spiegel, Missio Magazin, NEON, GEO, GEOlino, New York Times Lens Blog) and in exhibitions in 12 countries in such far away places as Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Prizes and scholarships

2014 Chosen by LensCulture as one of the Top 50 emerging talents

2013 Henri Nannen Award

2012 Runner-up at the IPA - International Photography Awards in the category professional editorial sports

2012 Three silver medals at the Px3 - Prix de la Photographie Paris

2011 and 2007 scholarships from the VG Bild-Kunst

2009 Kindernothilfe Media Award

2004 Kodak Young Talent Award

Jury Statement

In the category Landscape/Nature, Sandra Hoyn convinced the jury with her reportage about the effects of palm oil plantations in Indonesia on orang-utans in their natural habitat. In her pictures, she gives a face to the rather abstract subject of environmental destruction by industrialised agriculture. Her photographs touch the heart with the, for us human beings, decipherable expression of the injured orang-utan the photographer chose to illustrate the consequences of human intrusions into the world of nature. A reportage that holds up a mirror to western society. This quote from a jury member sums it up: ‘It is rare that pictures have moved me as much as this reportage by Sandra Hoyn. Our maltreated planet looks out at us from the eyes of this orang-utan. When we destroy nature, we destroy not only the animals whose home it is and who depend on us, but with them, we also destroy ourselves.’