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This month it is not a photograph but all the work of a photographer that we invite you to discover. Eric Dragesco – http://www.ericdragesco.com/ – has belonged to our member clubs SNPN. He began wildlife photography in 1970, at the age of 16.

His father Jean was a true pioneer of wildlife photography in France. Since young, Eric has always been fascinated by the Alpine fauna and has spent all his spare time roaming the mountain. His medical studies finished, he choose to turn his passion into a profession. After numerous trips over several continents and an impressive harvest of pictures, he decided to center his work on the endangered and seldom photographed species that fascinate him : the Gobi Bear, Snow Leopard, Wild Camel ... In 1998 , he started video and realized ten wildlife documentaries  including the series " In the Footsteps of ... " for Seasons, TF1 and France 5 channels.
In 2007 - 2008 he made a HD film in on the Snow Leopard and in 2009 managed to photograph two mythical species of Central Asia, the Markhor and Marco Polo sheep.
Here is an example of Eric's work to bring back images of the life of the elusive Himalayan brown bear.

 

Meeting the Himalayan Brown Bear 

On my trip to Tajikistan in November 2011, during which I was looking for markhor (Capra falkoneri heptneri), I accidentally stepped on a nice bear scat. When showing it to my guide, immediately he answered in Russian “Medved! menoga, menoga “ ! (Bears, many, many !).

brown bear2

(c) Eric Dragesco

Having already tried to find Himalayan brown bears (Ursus arctos isabellinus) in Pakistan without success, I was very interested to learn that there were bears in this part of Tajikistan. My guide suggested that I return in April, the best time to view bears in the south of Tajikistan, along the thin border with Afghanistan.

I spent close to two weeks there, at the end of April. The bears had already long emerged from hibernation and climbed higher up in the mountains. Regardless, I was able to see bears almost every day. In a large valley, I saw five different individuals during the same day. I observed many digging for roots. I was surprised by the bears’ diurnal activity, perhaps because they are not hunted. They also seemed to like steep areas. I saw them on ledges surrounded by vertical walls : we could not understand how they accessed areas where you would more typically find markhor or ibex. I even spotted some climbing like mountaineers almost vertical smooth slabs of rock. Often we were not able to get closer to the bears because they were in areas hard to access.

brown bear1

(c) Eric Dragesco

brown bear5

(c) Eric Dragesco 

My guide pointed out, in a walnut forest at 2100m of altitude, that the majority of trees had the higher branches broken off. He explained that every September, the bears harvest the walnuts by climbing on trees often standing on branches that are more than 10 metres high from the ground. Once the branches start bending because of the weight of the bear, the bear breaks the farthest part of the branch and collects the walnuts.

brown bear3

(c) Eric Dragesco

One day I came 50 metres close to a sub-adult bear. Two days later, we were sitting on a ledge scanning the landscape with our binoculars. 15 metres from us a bear appeared : he was more surprised than we were. He ran away with the agility and speed of a markhor, along a narrow turn, that we came from and walked careful not to fall.

brown bear7

(c) Eric Dragesco

This experience really left me with the desire to go back, to take better pictures of the bears, and especially take pictures of bears in the walnut forest, standing on branches 10 metres high that have a 5 cm diameter...

 

Making off...

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