East Finland August 2011

It’s a long way to come and visit Lassi Rautiainen (http://www.articmedia.fi/) in his hideout nearby the russian border, in Finnish Karelia. The road gets narrower as you get closer, turning into a sand road for the last 10km stretch. But as soon as you enter the cosy wooden lodge and get introduced to Lassi and his tribe, you start feeling at home in this remote corner of Europe, surrounded by the Finnish taiga and its monotonous landscape of forests, lakes and peat bogs.

Lassi was a pioneer in hide photography, maybe the first in europe 20 years ago to sense the potential in setting up hides for wildlife photographers and allowing them to get close-up shots of the shyest forest inhabitants : brown bears, wolverines, forest and marsh birds, and most recently, wolves. What used to be strictly a hunting technique has now become a powerful conservation tool, bringing photographers and nature enthusiasts closer to the most charismatic european wild mammals, generating revenues for local businesses, thus demonstrating the economic benefits of a healthy and protected wildlife. More than 20 outfits now run similar businesses along the russian border in Finland, and the practice has spread to other european countries as well : Norway, Hungary, Spain, UK…


Brown bear
Brown bears
Bears and wolf
Bears mock fight
Wolf alpha female

Wolf/bear interaction

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