Children

Extracts from a polar bear’s diary

Waiting for a seal to show up   | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

April 15: I looked at my sleepy cubs — Amaruq and Amka. They were four months old, time I took them hunting. Besides, I had been starving for the past four months, living off my fat. I nudged them awake. Though a bit reluctant at first, Amaruq, the more high-spirited of the two, was soon wide awake. His sister Amka meekly followed him.

So, today, they actually took their first step into the outside world. It was very warm. Was it summer already? Where had all that greenery appeared from? I even saw half-a-dozen caribou grazing on the grass. A strange sight indeed. The cubs tried to mimic them but soon realised grass was unpalatable and spat it out. And there were a lot of humans about too, walking in and out of some pink, rectangular structures. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated. I thought it best that all three of us made a hasty retreat back into the den.

April 16: Intense hunger drove all three of us out of the den again. I had to show my babies how we can walk on the sea ice and smell out seals. As we were passing by the pink man-made structures, the strong smell of dead seal meat wafted to our nostrils. Dead seals inside those pink buildings? Lindjak, the know-all Snowy Owl saw my puzzled look. “That’s the Polar Bear Feeding Station. Humans are serving dead seal meat to you polar bears,” she informed. “Why don’t you make the most of it?”

I felt most indignant. Why should we depend on humans for food? All our ancestors have always used the clever strategy of hunting seal from the ice sheets floating on the sea, using stealth and muscle power. “You won’t be able to hunt anymore, there is no sea ice out there,” hooted Lindjak.

Lindjak was right. There was no sea ice at all. What a rude shock. Feeling flustered and hot after our walk, we had to lay down and rest.

April 17: Something woke me up with a start. Instinctively, I smelt danger. It was Goshtu, the Arctic Fox. She was evilly eyeing my babes, her mouth drooling. “Don’t you dare lay your filthy paws on my cubs!” I roared. I managed to scare away Goshtu, but she would return, I was sure. And I was feeling so weak with starvation, I wouldn’t be able to fight back.

My mind buzzed with all kinds of thoughts. Maybe I should leave the cubs at the feeding station. They won’t have to starve any more. On the other hand, I would be making them lose their independence; they would never learn to hunt for themselves. Finally, I let my mind rule over my heart. I led them back to the feeding station and said goodbye.

April 18: I am back at the sea, willing it to freeze once again. Then, I can catch all the seals to satiate my gnawing hunger. Perhaps, I can fetch Amaruq and Amka from the feeding station. But will they want to return to the wild, having tasted an easier life?


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 5:59:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/how-will-the-polar-bear-hunt-when-the-sea-doesnt-freeze/article32596927.ece

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