By Mark McConville
STUNNING action shots have captured two huge eight-and-a-half-foot-long brown bears brawling in and outside a lake in a battle for supremacy.
The incredible images show water splashing as the 1000lb bears snarl and lunge at each other, throw a hefty paw at each other’s head and wrestle one another.
Other striking snaps show the bears continuing their fight on shore as they square up to each other while one stands up high on two legs as the other decides the low route is the best plan for success.
The remarkable encounter was captured in Kamchatka, Russia by wildlife photographer Roie Galitz (37) from Ramat Gan, Israel.
“Bears use play fights as a method of creating hierarchy and real fights to clearly show who the boss is,” he said.
“Some of the fights are serious, but most of them appear to be friendly interaction – which the bears enjoy.
“I first saw Kamchatka on a National Geographic program, and once I saw those majestic brown bears roaming its rushing rivers, I knew I had to visit that raw wild paradise myself.
“Being in the wild can always get really dangerous, really fast. This is the animal’s home, I’m only a guest there, and of course I respect that. Before every expedition I research and study their behaviour, and when out there – do everything I can to keep them, and myself, safe. The brown bears you see in these images are huge.”
Kamchatka brown bears are generally not dangerous to humans, and only 1% of encounters result in attack. The first Europeans who went to Kamchatka in the 19th century, although surprised by the number and size of bears there, observed that they were relatively harmless compared to their Siberian counterparts.
Kamchatka brown bears are among the most prized trophies for the Russian hunting industry. In 2005 the Kamchatka Department of Wildlife Management issued 500 hunting permits. Clients paid up to $10,000 to hunt bears. Thus, the economic impacts from recreational hunting of Kamchatka brown bears are significant.
“Our planet is amazing! It is wild, beautiful and home to so many incredible creatures,” added Galitz.
“It is also changing as we speak. We must protect it, minimize our destructive influence on nature and be conscious of our actions.
“I love bears; they are full of character and emotions. Each bear behaves differently: some are confident and some are shy, some like hunting in the river and some prefer the lake. They are really smart.
“The most important key to good wildlife photography is patience. You can wait for hours for just one tiny but crucial moment. And of course you have to be well prepared in order to capture it in a way that will make you happy.
“In this particular image I sat low in the water for a while, knowing the bear will be hungry and will try to hunt at some point. I located myself at the right direction and waited to capture that moment from a low angle.”