Natural Habitat Adventures

WWF in Action: Russia

Solving an Arctic Mystery

By Geoff York, WWF Global Arctic Program

The boat is moving so slowly and in calm waters as I take my watch with Anders. Ryrkaipiy is in sight, but it is still dark and too early to approach, so we reduce speed to a mere 2 knots and make a very gradual arrival. From a distance we begin to see the telltale signs of a former military base- abandoned structures and debris. In the middle of this, however, are what appear to be well-maintained and colorfully painted buildings.

The sunrise reveals a beautiful landscape surrounding the settlement. The Chukchi Mountains stretch out to the west, some with snow covered peaks. Rolling hills surround the town and Cape Schmidt is virtually an island connected only by a thin gravel strip. The island is rocky and dramatic compared to the relatively flat landscapes seen thus far.

On the shores of the rocky headlands and stretching out into the ocean we can see brown bodies jostling for beach space and heads bobbing in the sea. The hundreds of walrus we saw initially were only an appetizer too as we can now see thousands including a brown carpet stretching far up the south facing hill.

To top it off, we have one polar bear in sight of the boat too! It appears to be feeding on a walrus carcass, of which there are plenty, and is a quite healthy looking male. I have never seen such an abundance of wildlife in one place at one time.

This is a special visit for me as it is the home of Vladilen Kavriy, the father and driving force behind the Umky Patrol. The Umky Patrol was born out of tragedy. In 2005, a young girl was killed by a polar bear in this village. In response the town decided to take actions to prevent this from happening again.

In coordination and with support from WWF, the Umky Patrol now works to reduce bear human conflict in several villages across the Russian Arctic, manage attractants around towns, educate the public on safety around bears and walrus, minimize disturbance to walrus haul outs, and guard against poaching.

The activities of the patrol members, especially their outreach efforts within their communities, has also led to grass roots conservation in the designation of new protected areas for recently formed and existing walrus haul outs. Something I would love to see happen more frequently in other parts of the Arctic – community-led conservation.

The reason for this Northwest Passage expedition is to solve a scientific mystery: Are walrus and polar bear populations in the Laptev related to populations to the east and west?

Russia's Arctic coast has lost much of its summer sea ice over the past two decades.

As a result, there's increased interest in shipping routes and oil and gas exploration in the Laptev Sea.

Solving this mystery will have implications for the management of the entire region.

© Viktor Nikiforov/WWF-Russia
Vladilen Kavry – Polar bear patrol ranger.

Conservation

Get Weekly Updates

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS

Request Your 2023 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2023 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2023/2024 Catalog
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend,
Get $250 Off
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2023 Digital Catalog

View Our 2023/2024

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Questions? Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/conservation/wwf/wwf-in-action/russia/