The king and queen of the ice have finally shown themselves

Published on 29.03.2009 - Baffin Babes

Emma, Kristin and Vera have seen their first polar bears. The sighting didn't phase them too much, but an encounter with an Austrian on the other hand...

We didn't think this could happen any more. With all the international awareness about protecting endangered animals, and polar bears in particular, none of us thought that people still spent enormous sums of money to go and hunt polar bears in the most remote reaches of the Arctic. That hunting bear was a thing of the past. That these magnificent creatures were left in peace.

Not so! It seems that we've got it all wrong! In her last dispatch but one (we don't know the date, because it wasn't published), Emma Simonsson relates that one evening as they were quietly setting up camp after crossing a difficult stretch of ice during the day, they were visited unexpectedly by an expedition consisting of two Inuits, eleven dogs and an Austrian. The Austrian said he wanted to get himself a big one, "a very big one, like your tent", he said, obviously talking about a polar bear. You really do wonder what goes on inside the head of people like this. Following on from this, Emma explains that on Baffin Island, each village community is given a quota of animals from the central government. They can then kill those animals or use them to sell hunting licences to foreigners who come for that purpose, mainly Europeans and Russians.

There, that's our little moan over and done with. That said, the three women have not yet been joined by their friend, Ingebjoerg Tollefsen, who was stricken with terrible stomach pains in Svalblad. They are slowly making their way northwards towards Clyde River, the place set for the rendezvous. And it was passing by one of these remote fjords that they saw their first polar bears and were filled with admiration for these magnificent animals. There was nothing to worry about, either, as these two bears were not particularly threatening.

Their latest position was: N 69° 18' 19" / W 67° 24' 14"

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