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Teenager Killed by Polar Bear in Norway

Attacks by Polar Bears are rare, but not unheard of and those living, working and travelling in their habitat know to give them a very wide berth and to put measures in place to protect themselves.

The tragic incident in which Horatio Chapple lost his life and 4 others in the group sustained serious injuries serves as the worst kind of warning to everyone that when you wander into the habitat of a top predator, you can be perceived by them as prey or a threat.

This does not however mean that we should discourage these types of expeditions, especially for young people, providing they are delivered by experienced and well trained organisations. This type of expedition provides experiences which shape young people and their future, they are a remarkable privilege and the possibility of safe encounters with top predators is truly the experience of a lifetime.

This case is very unusual, we will no doubt in time find out what precautions were taken against such an attack, if all the relevant procedures were followed and possibly what led to this rarest of incidents; there is however always going to be a element of risk when we stray from our ‘safe’ everyday lifestyle into the wild.

These are environments where we are above all visitors and the top predators are king; a healthy respect for them should always be shown. Sadly sometimes these encounters lead to tragedy:


These are extremely rare occurrences and must not prevent further expeditions or the incredible benefits such experiences provide those lucky enough to visit these locations. The British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) is a respected and experienced organisation, the BSES and others like them provide fantastic opportunities for young people.

When visiting environments where predators pose a real danger to humans, relevant precautions must always be taken. However it should be remembered that the greater risks to travellers generally come from much more ‘mundane’ activities; getting in a car, crossing the road, swimming in the sea, disease and crime all carry significantly more risk.

There can be no greater sadness than the loss of a young man destined undoubtedly for a very fulfilled life, who has tragically been taken away from his family and friends, our heartfelt condolences go out to all their families and friends. For those people seriously injured and others affected, we wish them a swift and full recovery.


To view the original BBC article please Click Here

Source – Peter Mayhew is the Managing Director of Safe Gap Year. He delivers independent travel safety courses and provides expert advice on all issues of travel safety.

Date – 5th August 2011


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