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Polar bears of Wrangel Island
Meeting wiht polar bear

Traveling about the Arctic, each traveler is thinking of and is looking forward to see the "master" of these places - a polar bear. Meeting with him in his natural surroundings is always an unforgettable event. To tell the truth, now when we have nearly left the Arctic and do not lead ebullient activities there, the life of polar bear is eased a lot and one can meet him much oftener.

As a rule visitors of the Arctic can see polar bear from board of icebreaker or land-rover or helicopter and therefore they feel themselves absolutely protected and don't care about correct attitude to wild animal.

Tales about a tin of condensed milk repeatedly brightened up by journalists product notion of bear as a bloodthirsty arctic monster, which seeks for nothing but condensed milk, and if it doesn't find it, devours everything that moves.

If to ponder over it, in reality meeting of a bear and a man is not very hopeful for master of the Arctic. After 20 years of development the Arctic, using hard icebreakers, aviation, cruise land rovers and firearms we have put polar bear on verge of disappearance.

It is a good thing that we realized before it was too late and now polar bear is in the "Red Book" and has remarkable defenders and admirers.

My first meeting with polar bear took place long ago on Franz Joseph Land and frankly speaking I was very ashamed of my unwise behavior in face of Nikita Ovsyannikov, who was a very good specialist in bear's psychology. Thanks God, the bear didn't suffer and we didn't wish him any harm, we just wanted to take photos of him, but... how we did it.

And in most meetings people bring bears harm not because they wish them harm, but because they simply don't know how to behave. Nikita's lessons did me good and now in theory I know, that this wonderful beast is rather normal. In spite of theoretical trainings an unexpected meeting with a polar bear on Wrangle Island - when neither he nor our small group was ready to meet - made us feel nervous and get considerable portion of adrenalin. We met him (or rather her) as it is said face to face and who got frightened more was unknown, but she ran away first. And when Nikita Ovsyannikov arrived (he was not with us in this memorable moment) we felt more confident and calmly continued to observe the behavior of this strong and very beautiful animal in immediate nearness.

To study, to study and to study once again - is a very reasonable slogan for those, who want to call themselves polar explorers. To learn to live in harmony with remarkable world of the Arctic. That expedition to Wrangle island left many impressions: unique plant kingdom, life of birds colonies in the dynamics, meeting with musk-ox, reindeer, polar owl, arctic fox... And in contrast - settlement on Schmidt cape - a still from apocalypses film, deplorable condition on the northeast of the Arctic, problems with fuel...

***

The Arctic ecology is very vulnerable and frail. Our attempt to conquer it doesn't credit us. Polar bear is at the top of huge ecological pyramid and our interference at each its level causes the destruction of the whole pyramid. The catch (barbarian poaching) of fish in the arctic seas, technique disasters, which in conditions of low temperatures lead to consequences much more serious than in any other zone. Really we may do anything with nature. I wish we learned to treat t he world surrounding us at least as our own flat - usually we take care of it, protect, coddle and clean it - because we live there. We should do the same concerning our home - earth (I tend to say the Arctic) and then everything will be all right with polar bears, owls, whales, walruses, and us.

 

Oleg Prodan

 

Interview to telecast «In the world of animals» (PRT), 2002 year

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