My Bears, by Lassi Rautiainen フィンランドのヒグマの写真集

Lassi is the main man behind the Kuusamo Nature Photo festival. He is also a well-known nature photographer in Europe and his special passion is bears ("karhu" in Finnish).

This is his photo book of "his" bears in the Finnish (and maybe Russian) wilderness photographed from his bear hides (wildlife observation huts). The text is in four languages including English. One of the first things he says in the book is that bears are not dangerous. They do not attack people. Well, that's not true in Japan. Bears do attack and kill people in Japan. People picking mushrooms in the mountains or even in their backyard near a mountain can be vulnerable.

Bear attacks are often widely reported in Japan's news media. So I was surprised to hear that bears in Finland are afraid of people and run away when they see humans. Finland has about 1,000 brown bears. Happily, I saw two of them during a bear-watching trip conducted by Lassi.

The book is quite interesting. Lassi gives colorful names to all the bears he has seen. There's Flathead, Ruffled-head, Little Boy, Beefcake, and Split-ear, Finland's most photographed bear. Split-ear's right ear has a little V-notch on the tip. He got it by tearing off the tag that a bear researcher had tacked on.

Lassi also tells interesting stories about the mating practices of the bears (occurring in May-June), and about his own encounters with the bears. The book also shows pictures of wolverines which look like badgers. I was lucky to observe and film a wolverine at a bear hide. There are only a few hundred of them in the Nordic region.

Lassi is a great nature storyteller and often humorous. And I read this book from cover to cover with great interest. Published by his company, Articmedia. ISBN: 951-95376-6-X

「僕のヒグマ」という写真集で、フィンランドで撮ったヒグマの写真。写真家のラッシー・ラウティアイネン氏(Lassi Rautiainen)は長年のヒグマのオタク。クーサモのネィチャーフォト祭りの実行委員長でもある。面白い方です。

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