Vulture Stalking a Starving Child – Most Iconic Photograph

This is one of the most iconic and most haunting pictures that i’ve ever come across. The image was taken by photographer Kevin Carter in 1993 while covering the famine occurring in Sudan.

Vulture Stalking a Starving Child
Vulture Stalking a Starving Child By Kevin Carter, 1993

The Pulitzer Prize winning image shows a girl who was exhausted and taking a break while on her way to a feeding center. Kevin Carter took about 20 minutes to get the shot of the vulture and the baby in focus without scaring off the vulture. In that time, Kevin Carter was moved so much at what had transpired that he later took his own life.

The photograph was sold to The New York Times where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993 as ‘metaphor for Africa’s despair’. Practically overnight hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived, leading the newspaper to run an unusual special editor’s note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown. Journalists in the Sudan were told not to touch the famine victims, because of the risk of transmitting disease, but Carter came under criticism for not helping the girl. ”The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene,”.

Kevin Carter was 33 years old, he eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo, but he couldn’t enjoy it. Two months after receiving his Pulitzer, Carter would be dead of carbon-monoxide poisoning in Johannesburg. His red pickup truck was parked near a small river where he used to play as a child; a green garden hose attached to the vehicle’s exhaust funneled the fumes inside. “I’m really, really sorry,” he explained in a note left on the passenger seat beneath a knapsack. “The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist.”

In his suicide note he wrote…. “I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners”.

Kevin Carter
Kevin Carter.