Roy Mangersnes - Victime of ignorance


I met this young female Polar bear on the west coast of Svalbard a couple of weeks ago. I photographed it on three occasions during this week, and I found it the most happy Polar bear I have ever seen. It was in a perfect habitat with plenty of food to eat, good ice conditions and beautiful cold snow. She had been eating well the last week and were happy to was her energy on exploring the vast Arctic ice. Sometimes it was as if I could see her smile.

Only four days after I took this photograph, her curiosity brought her into the tent camp of a group of tourists. They were tenting on the bank of the fjord, without Polar bear watch and a faulty safety fence. She managed to get into one of the tents in the morning and surprised the people inside. She wasn’t hunting and only inflicted minor wounds to the tourist, but understandably they felt the need to protect themselves and fires their gun three times.

Frightened and wounded the 2,5 year old Polar bear ran into the sea to swim away from danger. Later in the morning she was found by the authorities and killed. One might argue that the people were in danger and only protected themselves. Yes I see that, but they should not have ended up in this situation in the first place. The Arctic is one of the most rewarding places on our planet but it can also be unforgiving for those who don’t come prepared.

The lack of knowledge, human ignorance and her own curiosity killed this beautiful animal.

Location: Svalbard

Tags: Arctic, polar bear, roy mangersnes, svalbard

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  1. Sven Začek said:

    02/04/2015 08:24

    So true Roy, so true! I hope this prompts a new law about how tenting should be arranged in Polar bear country.

  2. Florian said:

    02/04/2015 14:36


  3. Jeff Meyers said:

    02/04/2015 16:58

    It's a pity. Not only does arctic wildlife suffer under man-made change of habitat (due to climate change) but also under irresposibly acting foreigners.

  4. Milia Maris said:

    02/04/2015 17:00

    You should try to submit your story at World Press Photographer of the Year 2016.

  5. Johan Van Hoof said:

    02/04/2015 23:22

    A very very sad story about this beautiful Polar Bear ! And another fatal outcome due to human interference. They should better camp more sensibly and maybe (if it wasn't the case) protect their campsite with an electric fence like they do in Alaska with the Grizzly Bears. It's also abit strange that you can camp out there without having a professional guide around, someone who stays calm and takes the right actons. It are we who have to adapt to wildlife not the other way around :-(