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Daily Archives: 10. January 2016 − News & Stories

Loo­king back at 2015 – Decem­ber

While I am tal­king about good old Anti­gua: right now, she is in the shi­py­ard. Cut into two parts. No ice­berg and now under­wa­ter rock are the reason for this, but the owner’s plan to make her a bit lon­ger. Half of the cab­ins will be a bit lar­ger from 2016. But the­re won’t be more cab­ins and no more beds than so far, so not more peo­p­le than we are used to, and that is important. And they say that a lon­ger hull is making for bet­ter sai­ling abili­ties. I am loo­king for­ward to a rene­wed Anti­gua in 2016!

Anti­gua rel­oa­ded, Decem­ber 2015. Pho­to © Sven­ja Hol­lank.

Antigua in the shipyard

Mean­while, the polar night has come over Sval­bard. What should have been a peaceful and silent arc­tic win­ter brought dis­as­ter to Lon­gye­ar­by­en just befo­re Christ­mas, when a snow ava­lan­che went into a housing area, stron­gly dama­ging 11 buil­dings and kil­ling two peo­p­le. So the year 2015, which has brought war and ter­ror to many count­ries, comes to a sad end also in Spits­ber­gen. Let’s hope that 2016 will bring as many gre­at adven­tures as 2015, but less sad ones.

During the sea­son of the short days, I am sort­ing the trips of the past, get­ting tri­plogs, vide­os and pho­to gal­le­ries rea­dy, which I recom­mend to ever­y­bo­dy who wants to lea­ve their home or office men­tal­ly for a moment to take a vir­tu­al trip up north. New trips are being plan­ned, with Anti­gua, with Arc­ti­ca II, with Ópal (in 2017), with Auro­ra. To Spits­ber­gen, Green­land and Jan May­en. A new focus on hiking, in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber. This all takes time for a lot of thin­king and plan­ning. 2015 has seen 166 news and blog ent­ries on this web­site. Also new book pro­jects are get­ting on. Seve­ral ones are in the making, some in a stag quite advan­ced. So I can pro­mi­se new books, but I am not going to say any­thing about timing. I am not plan­ning an air­port, I am just wri­ting books. Nobo­dy is pay­ing me for that. So I don’t have to pro­mi­se any­thing and I don’t have to excu­se any­thing in case it takes more time. That keeps life easy (kind of).

I wish all rea­ders a good and hap­py new year! Gre­at trips in high or low lati­tu­des, health and hap­pi­ness! May­be our paths will cross, near the poles or some­whe­re in bet­ween. Under the mid­night sun or the polar light.

Cruel­ty to polar bear in Rus­sia

I guess I have to warn you here: this is not for the faint-hear­ted. The sto­ry and a rela­ted video on you­tube are dis­tur­bing.

The­re has been an extre­me case of cruel­ty to a polar bear on Wran­gel Island in the far eas­tern Rus­si­an arc­tic. A fema­le polar bear accom­pa­nied by cubs had visi­ted a con­s­truc­tion site regu­lar­ly. Appear­ent­ly, she had beco­me used to peo­p­le, who fed her regu­lar­ly. In Novem­ber, a fire­cra­cker was mixed into the food and explo­ded in her mouth, hea­vi­ly inju­ring the ani­mal. A you­tube video shows the bear moving around in gre­at pain and losing blood. The fire­cra­cker is said to have been a mili­ta­ry-type ban­ger nor­mal­ly used for mili­ta­ry edu­ca­ti­on and trai­ning, con­tai­ning 80 gram gun­pow­der.

The offen­der was the cook, who said later that it was an act of self defence, an attempt to divert the polar bear’s atten­ti­on away from ano­ther near­by per­son. This is, howe­ver, unli­kely to be true, accor­ding to local media, who report that the bear had been used to peo­p­le and never show­ing aggres­si­ve beha­viour. It is said that workers quite com­mon­ly pho­to­gra­phed them­sel­ves tog­e­ther with this par­ti­cu­lar polar bear.

A video is cir­cu­la­ting on you­tube, show­ing how the polar bear is suf­fe­ring from strong pain and blee­ding sever­ely. Infor­ma­ti­on about the con­di­ti­on of the bear sin­ce is con­tra­dic­to­ry: the­re are state­ments that she is ali­ve, but others say she has not been seen sin­ce.

Initi­al­ly the offen­der see­med to get away with a sym­bo­lic fine, but sin­ce the case drew inter­na­tio­nal atten­ti­on on the web, poli­ti­ci­ans inclu­ding Rus­si­an Envi­ron­ment Minis­ter Ser­gej Dons­koj and the gover­nor of Chu­kot­ka have deman­ded inves­ti­ga­ti­ons and a lawsu­it. The Att­or­ney Gene­ral has taken up inves­ti­ga­ti­ons, which may lead to impri­son­ment up to 3 or 7 years, depen­ding on source.

A peti­ti­on on thepetitionsite.com is sup­po­sed to increase pres­su­re on Rus­si­an aut­ho­ri­ties to take strong steps.

The online peti­ti­on does not con­tain dis­tur­bing images, but the abo­ve men­tio­ned you­tube video is tough stuff: cruel and dis­tur­bing. If you want to see it, then this is the link.

The offen­der was (is?) working for the com­pa­ny Русальянс (Russ­al­li­ans), which is con­trac­ted by the Rus­si­an Minis­try of Defence. Offi­ci­al­ly, the com­pa­ny is sup­port­ing a foun­da­ti­on that is working for the arc­tic envi­ron­ment, inclu­ding a “har­mo­nic rela­ti­onship bet­ween humans and ani­mals”.

Screen­shot of the you­tube-video.

cruelty to polar bear on Wrangel Island

Source: Stutt­gar­ter Nach­rich­ten


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