January 07, 2013

Scottish wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan risked his life to follow a wild polar bear family over three seasons.

This is the terrifying moment a wildlife cameraman comes face-to-face with a deadly 1,000lb polar bear looking for its next meal.

The hungry eight-foot predator repeatedly attacks the safety perspex box - the on-ice equivalent of a shark cage - housing helpless Gordon Buchanan.

Filmmaker Mr Buchanan shows nerves of steel as he endures the lethal polar bear’s 40-minute sustained assault as it desperately hunts for a weak spot in his protective pod.

The female bear, with its powerful paws and giant teeth, was trying to get hold of the 40-year-old so she could feed herself and her two young cubs.

Mr Buchanan, who has filmed the world’s deadliest creatures for 20-years, described the ordeal as his scariest ever experience.

He said: 'A lot of people think that carnivores are intrinsically dangerous but most aren’t - there’s a minimal risk and attacks are the exception.


'But polar bears are different, without a doubt she wanted me for lunch. She was so persistent, looking for a weak spot for almost 45 minutes.

'I was terrified and you could hear my heartbeat on the mic. It really was a sensational moment and a worrying situation.

'It shows how enormous and powerful they are.


'It is the most difficult thing I have done and the scariest. I’ve not been terrified for 40 minutes before.'

The Scottish wildlife expert filmed the fascinating creature in Svalbard, in the northern-most region of Arctic Norway, for his three-part BBC series The Polar Bear Family and Me.

The series, to be aired over three consecutive nights on BBC2, starts on Monday, January 7 at 9.30pm.

Mr Buchanan followed mother Lyra and her cubs Miki and Luca for 12 months to get closer to a polar bear family than anyone has before.


He risked long journeys over and through the ice, often into uncharted territory, battling freezing winds, violent storms and plummeting temperatures.

On a number of occasions the crew had to flee on their snowmobiles as the giant predators edged closer and closer to them.

The perspex 'ice cube' the photographer was housed in for much of the filming was 'pretty much bombproof'.


But there was a risk it could get brittle when very cold - making the task of filming the polar bears even more perilous.

He said: 'There’s no doubt polar bear cubs are the cutest animals in the world and even the adults have an aesthetic which isn’t threatening.

'But the polar bear is the animal I have the most respect for, it is the largest and strongest land carnivore. They are such inquisitive animals too.


'The landscape is pretty featureless and it is amazing how they appear from nowhere.

'With most carnivores you can see their food source but you have to work really hard to find the animals polar bears feed on.'

The Polar Bear Family and Me begins on BBC2 on January 7 at 9.30pm.
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VIDEO Wildlife film-maker close call with a polar bear

Responses to "Wildlife film-maker's close call with a polar bear (Photos - Video)"

  1. Wolf Man says:

    Because seals roll around in bomb proof ice enlarged hamster spheres...

  2. Amazing opportunity! Thank you so much for giving us more insight into one of the most beautiful apex predators we have.

  3. A frightening, yet blessed event to show us ... Thank you for re-affirming the power and beauty of this precious animal .... a sight to behold !!!

  4. Amazing images up close...she looks very hungry! Peace, Mary Helen

  5. isabell says:

    Bravo pour cette réelle performance, vous m'avez fait rêver et vos images sont très belles. Merci pour tout ça,pour cet énorme et long travail. Pour nous montrer encore la beauté de tout ce qui nous entoure et l'importance de sa sauvegarde.Je ne suis pas sûre de connaitre forcément le reste de votre travail, mais je vais rechercher vos autres films.heureusement que le monde tient des gens comme vous. bonne continuation sur d'autres projets. :) amicalement.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It must be an amazing experience to see a beautiful creature from so close. The bear is fearful and with good reason. Polar bears have been under attack by humans and not just for food. Man doesn't realize that all animals communicate with each other; have observation and learning capacities and learn from experience. When man hunts animals, many animals, man included become familiar with the enemy.

    Polar bears are struggling for survival due to disappearing ice in their environment and hunters that consider it acceptable to kill them for their skins. There are many laws that speak of not killing in almost every single culture; "Thou Shalt not kill..." for instance is one, and another is "gardening with reverence for even the tiniest of creatures" as in Buddhist tradition. There is nothing to justify the murdering of animals whether for food or money...Perhaps the indigenous people have no choice, but hunters killing animals for profit need to get therapy around their issues of what manhood is all about. Killing will not solve their deep issues and lack of soul.

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