"The Arctic is the greatest wilderness on Earth", says wildlife guide and photographer Hälle Flygare.
In this beautiful book of pictures of birds and mammals of the high country and far north, two eminent biologists (Valerius Geist and Geoff Holroyd) and two well-travelled nature photographers with many years experience observing wild animals (Hälle Flygare and Wayne Lynch) depict and describe the wild survivors of the great ice age.
Before that period, our now-temperate regions were populated by giants: woolly mammoths, enormous bison, short-faced bears, American cheetahs, ground sloths, gigantic beavers and deer with 4-metre wide antlers.
But even now, "North" means "big". This book shows Polar and Alaska Brown bears, big wild sheep, caribou and cougars; whales, orcas, narwhals and beluga whales; wolves, golden and bald eagles, and walrus. But the smaller Arctic mammals and birds are here too: Arctic fox, hares, otters and geese, loons and ptarmigan.
The backdrop is sometimes snow and ice, sometimes the splendid color of a northern autumn, in scarlets and golds, and the blues of coastal waters.
The text is both factual – explaining why the creatures have evolved to look and behave the way they do – and revelatory: why we need to slow climate change, reduce poisons and habitat loss in the environment as bird populations slide. Why changing the population decline is important to us as humans on Planet Earth. What we should, and can, do.
Hälle Flygare lives in Alberta, where he worked for Canada's Park Service for many years and has been a wildlife guide and photographer. Dr Valerius Geist was a zoologist, who studied mountain sheep in British Columbia and was a professor of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. He died in 2021. Dr Geoffrey Holroyd is a bird biologist whose career included 36 years in the Canadian Wildlife Service. Dr Wayne Lynch is a celebrated wildlife photographer. His recent books include Penguins of the World and Galapagos: A Traveler's Introduction.