Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve

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Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve

These amazing pictures captured by French photographer Philippe Ricordel show a young female polar bear lounging in the snowy wilderness of Alaska. In one picture, she came within metres of Ricordel and looked as though she was about to bite his camera, and in another, it looks as if she is waving right at him.

The photographs were taken at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the largest wildlife reserve in the United States, and home to a whole range of animals including wolves, lynx, caribou and grizzly bears.

Ricordel managed to photograph the animal up close from a boat using a camera stick. The young female instinctively came forward out of curiosity until she was alarmingly close, and even opened her mouth as if to bite the camera. Polar bears can be extremely dangerous, they are the world's largest carnivore and have no fear of humans, so Ricordel could not be sure as to how safe he actually was.

He said:

"You have to choose carefully which bear you perform this with. These photos were taken from a boat, and when the bear swam up to us I used a camera on the end of a pole to get the close-ups. This young female was curious and peaceful - but I wouldn't recommend trying the same thing with a large male."

He added:

"I did have to take the camera away after she opened her mouth wide and was close to crunching it. Polar bears are curious and have no fear of humans, but you do have to be cautious and keep your distance from them."

It is thought that around 4700 polar bears currently inhabit Alaska, and that there around 20,000 to 25,000 living in the wild worldwide. The conservation status of polar bears is complex, one reason being that due to the extreme conditions that they live in, it was near impossible in the past for researchers and conservationists to accurately record how many were living in the wild. While in some places, such as Canada, bear populations have risen since a ban on hunting was put in place, it is also the case in other places that bear populations are falling, largely due to global warming.

The reason that global warming impacts the bear population is because they hunt on the ice-sheets that are being eroded away by climate-change. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) predicts that by 2050 the global polar bear population may decline by as much as 30%.

Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve

[h/t: Daily Mail]

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Thinking Humanity: Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
Curious Polar Bear Swims Up Close To Brave Photographer At Alaskan Nature Reserve
These amazing pictures captured by French photographer Philippe Ricordel show a young female polar bear lounging in the snowy wilderness of Alaska. In
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