- Cameraman Gordon Buchanan endured 45-minute attack from hungry female bear who wanted to feed her cubs
- BBC man says he was the most frightened he’s ever been – and the microphone picked up noise of his heart racing
PUBLISHED: 12:12 GMT, 4 January 2013 |
This is the terrifying moment a wildlife cameraman comes face-to-face with a deadly 1,000lb polar bear looking for its next meal.
The hungry eight-foot predator repeatedly attacks the safety perspex box – the on-ice equivalent of a shark cage – housing helpless Gordon Buchanan.
Filmmaker Mr Buchanan shows nerves of steel as he endures the lethal polar bear’s 40-minute sustained assault as it desperately hunts for a weak spot in his protective pod.
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The female bear, with its powerful paws and giant teeth, was trying to get hold of the 40-year-old so she could feed herself and her two young cubs.
Mr Buchanan, who has filmed the world’s deadliest creatures for 20-years, described the ordeal as his scariest ever experience.
He said: ‘A lot of people think that carnivores are intrinsically dangerous but most aren’t – there’s a minimal risk and attacks are the exception.
‘But polar bears are different, without a doubt she wanted me for lunch. She was so persistent, looking for a weak spot for almost 45 minutes.
‘I was terrified and you could hear my heartbeat on the mic. It really was a sensational moment and a worrying situation.
‘It shows how enormous and powerful they are.
‘It is the most difficult thing I have done and the scariest. I’ve not been terrified for 40 minutes before.’
The Scottish wildlife expert filmed the fascinating creature in Svalbard, in the northern-most region of Arctic Norway, for his three-part BBC series The Polar Bear Family and Me.
The series, to be aired over three consecutive nights on BBC2, starts on Monday, January 7 at 9.30pm.
Mr Buchanan followed mother Lyra and her cubs Miki and Luca for 12 months to get closer to a polar bear family than anyone has before.
He risked long journeys over and through the ice, often into uncharted territory, battling freezing winds, violent storms and plummeting temperatures.
On a number of occasions the crew had to flee on their snowmobiles as the giant predators edged closer and closer to them.
The perspex ‘ice cube’ the photographer was housed in for much of the filming was ‘pretty much bombproof’.
But there was a risk it could get brittle when very cold – making the task of filming the polar bears even more perilous.
He said: ‘There’s no doubt polar bear cubs are the cutest animals in the world and even the adults have an aesthetic which isn’t threatening.
VIDEO Incredible footage shows the photographer just a perspex cage away from polar bear’s attack
‘But the polar bear is the animal I have the most respect for, it is the largest and strongest land carnivore. They are such inquisitive animals too.
‘The landscape is pretty featureless and it is amazing how they appear from nowhere.
‘With most carnivores you can see their food source but you have to work really hard to find the animals polar bears feed on.’
The Polar Bear Family and Me begins on BBC2 on January 7 at 9.30pm.