In Russia, two young polar bears were fed by employees of the gas field of Kharasavey, in the very north of the country. Two brothers, named Khara and Savey, had been flown hundreds of kilometers into the wild tundra to keep them away from humans. The biologists at the origin of their transfer had left them with about 200 kg of food, so that they could make a new start in good conditions.
Back to their origins
After a 600 km journey, the two cubs reappeared in the village that had fed them. Zoologist, Andrey Boltunov, who had participated in the operation to release the cubs, said during a press conference:
The brothers seemed to be in very good shape when they returned. They had clearly found enough food, their fur also looked much cleaner. As soon as they arrived, they went to the same quiet part of the village where they used to hide.
Even the dogs barely barked when they came back.
Breaking the bond
A new attempt to release the cubs into the wild will be made in the weeks to come. This time, they will be sent to the Gudansky nature reserve on the Yavay Peninsula. This new location is 125 km away—with the route back to the village being a complicated one—which is likely to prevent the two brothers from returning.
We lost the battle, but not the war. The cubs showed their exceptional ability to survive in the wild, but the bond with humans was stronger. We will have another discussion about what can be done to break that bond.
Scientists are trying to keep polar bears from getting too close to humans, both to avoid dangerous attacks, but also to ensure that the declining population fends for itself in its natural habitat.