Under the entry of Marcio Cabral, the British Natural History Museum described the tedious process that the photographer went through to make the award-winning image.
He spent three years in the plains of Brazil, he told Wildlife Judge of the Photographer of the Year, dotting huge termite mounds with bioluminescent beetle larvae – and waiting for the perfect moment.
"After days of rain, Marcio was finally able to capture the phenomenon, but he also managed a surprise bonus," said a headline. "Out of the darkness, a huge anteater, without Marcio in its hiding place, strolled and began to attack the tall, concrete mud mound with its mighty claws, after the termites had lived deep within it."
And with a single click, Cabral was on the way to winning the 201
He called the image of the anteater the termite mound "The Night Raider". Photographers and nature lovers were amazed at his work. It was placed in the exhibition of the museum and prepared for a tour of the winning picture.
But some anonymous third parties informed the organizers of the contest that something was wrong.
The anteater in the photo had not come out of any darkness in the recent past, they claimed. There was a reason why the animal did not notice "Marcio in his coat".
It was crammed.
And the critics had a real, unenlightened photo to substantiate their claim to the groomed insectivorous mammal, the Natural History Museum, said in a press release. The same stuffed animal was exhibited in the visitor center at one of the entrances to the Emas National Park in Brazil.
That happened to be the same park where "The Night Raider" was filmed. And the anteater in both images is roughly in the same pose, a telltale sign that he is not technically alive.
When questioned, Cabral denied that he had stolen the stuffed anteater from the display and flopped against a glowing termite mound in the middle of the night.
So the museum started an investigation. "The rules make it clear that 'entries must not deceive the viewer or attempt to misrepresent the reality of nature," the museum says. Stuffed anteaters are outside.
The museum assembled a team of five scientists to compare the photos: two mammal experts, a South American mammal expert, an anteater researcher, and a dissecter.
The scientists studied the photographs independently, but came to the same conclusion: "There are elements in the overall stance, morphology, the position of raised tufts of fur, and in the pattern on the neck and top of the head that belong to are similar, so that the pictures represent two different animals, "said the museum.
The museum also found some of Cabral's answers to requests about the photo fishy. It is not uncommon for nature photographers to shoot dozens or hundreds of photos of a subject to capture a single usable image.
But Cabral had just made a perfect, award-winning photo. There were no pictures of the suspicious anteater in another pose.
Cabral did not immediately return messages from the Washington Post looking for a comment.
"Mr Cabral has given an explanation why he had no other pictures of the anteater," the museum said in its press release. "He also gave a witness who claims to have seen the living anteater, Mr. Cabral denies strongly that the anteater in the picture is a preparation."
But the museum felt different and Cabral was disqualified. His picture was removed from the exhibition and the tour, and he can never participate in the competition again.
It was the second time in eight years that the Natural History Museum declared an award-winning photo too good to be true.
In 2000, José Luis Rodriguez said that he had patiently followed a pack of Iberian wolves for months to collect a dramatic picture of an animal jumping over a peasant fence – and to win the Photographer of the Year award.
But Richter later found that he had hired the wolf from a Madrid wildlife park, in violation of competition rules that prohibit animal models, the Guardian said.
Now he and Cabral are on the same prohibition list.
Cabral is a Brazil-based photographer who specializes in mostly panoramic landscape shots and videos, according to his website. He has been awarded more than a dozen awards, according to the site, which announces its "well-deserved reputation for its award-winning work, published in a variety of travel and tourism magazines."
His website does not mention the price of the British Natural History Museum, or the controversy surrounding him.
But his disqualification was a loss to all other photographers in the category, the museum said.
"A new category winner can not be awarded because throughout the contest The contest is blind – the names of the photographers are unknown – as photographers know today, it would be impossible for judges to make an objective decision."