The changing fortune of the Great Egret (Egretta alba egretta), the signature bird of the Hungarian nature conservation efforts, is an environmental protection success story.

Aggressive poaching for their fashionable plumage left their colonies counting only 31 mating pairs in 1921. However, with international collaboration to preserve and protect their natural habitat, their colonies now number over 3,000 pairs in Hungary today.

Stunning images of these graceful birds in their natural habitat celebrate the beauty of the natural world, and our successful efforts to protect our environment.

Zsolt Kudich and Réka Zsirmon

Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of
all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015. In total, you’ll find 34 unique points of view inspired by the earth, nature and our shared surroundings. Beauty, destruction, wonder and hope—these are timely, important works that shouldn’t be missed!