The winners of the 2012 World Press Photo Awards have been announced.

Press photos are often gruesome and/or harrowing, depicting as they do the hard news — wars, political turmoil, natural disasters — that makes the headlines.

Unsurprisingly, topics that feature prominently in the winning photographs include the Arab Spring featuring images from Libya, Yemen, Egypt, the Japanese earthquake, Occupy Wall Street protests, and issues of climate change.

But there are also inspirational and uplifting stories depicted by the world-class photojournalists whose work is acknowledged in these prestigious awards.

In the Nature Category, First Prize Stories, the winner was South African photographer Brent Stirton with his coverage of the shocking rhino poaching scourge that’s sweeping southern Africa.

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