On Saturday, July 28th 2018, the Norwegian authorities announced that they had shot a polar bear on the Svalbard archipelago, between Norway and the Arctic Circle.
How could such a tragedy have occurred at a time when polar bears have become, of no fault of their own, ambassadors for climate change that's disastrous for the environment? The reason is mass tourism.
In recent years, tourism activities have flourished in the northernmost regions of the globe, and it is precisely within this context that the death of the bear occurred. A boat full of tourists was approaching on a small island in the Svalbard archipelago, a group of travellers surrounded, as required by law, by professionals present to repel possible polar bears in the area.
On bear territory
However, as the flow of visitors poured down the coast of the island, a polar bear felt intimidated by this intrusion on its territory and attacked one of the guards. The man had simply been injured, but his colleague fired at the large mammal which collapsed, dead.
The guards have claimed self-defence to justify the death of the animal, whose species is in danger of extinction. The man wounded by the polar bear was transported by helicopter to the nearest town, Longyearbyen, on the neighbouring island of Spitzberg. His life isn't in danger.
Reflection of an era
This sad affair is, in truth, only a reflection of our society. In an era of major climate change, the Earth's poles should be preserved, as well as itsfragile fauna, by limiting tourist arrivals as much as possible.
However, in recent years, mass tourism has developed in these isolated regions of the world ever since new shipping routes have opened up...due to the melting ice. Tourists with little concern for the environment unknowingly land on the territory of potentially aggressive animals.
The polar bears, already at bay because of the scarcity of their food sources, can only feel threatened by these waves of travellers and will, therefore, logically seek to defend themselves.