CHASING MUSKOX
IN NORWAY

WILDLIFE DOCUMENTARY

"One night, as temperature reached -15C, our petrol stove froze. We were relying on it to melt snow and get drinking water."

After a successful collaboration in the desert and savanna of Namibia, wildlife documentary filmmaker and producer Tanguy Dumortier offered to join on another expedition. This time, we would go up North. 

In a new episode of "Le Jardin Extraordinaire", the most famous nature show of the public Belgian TV, we followed Michel d'Oultremont a young but already renowned wildlife photographer on his search for the mythical muskox in the Dovrefjell National Park in Norway. 

Being a host-driven documentary, my main role would be to operate the camera, covering all scenes involving Tanguy presenting and interacting with Michel d'Oultremont. 

Things though, wouldn't go according to plan...

Due to legal restrictions, the full episode of Le Jardin Extraordinaire, 'Scandinavie, terre de légende" is only viewable on AUVIO, the VOD platform of the Belgian public television, RTBF. 

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TANGUY AND MICHEL D'OULTREMONT PULL THE SLEDGES THAT CARRY THE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLY FOR THE ONE WEEK EXPEDITION. 

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PHOTOGRAPHER MICHEL D'OULTREMONT GET OUT OF THE TENT ON THE DOVREFJELL PLATEAU, NORWAY

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EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS MAKE THE SPOTTING OF MUSK OX DIFFICULT

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TO GET WATER TO COOK AND DRINK,  SNOW HAS TO BE BOILED, WHICH CAN BE A LENGHTY PROCESS. 

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The climb

We parked the car about 40km South of Oppdall, put our snow shoes on and started hiking on the trail, while pulling 2 heavy sledges on the steep hill leading to the heart of Dovrefjell National Park. That took us half of an exhausting day.   

"On arrival the first thing we had to do was set-up base camp and dig a hole in the snow so we could boil snow to get drinking water while having our petrol stove protected from the wind"

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Michel pulls one of the heavy sledge, loaded with the camera gear and supply for the week,

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Desolation can be synonym of beauty at Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park

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digging a hole in the snow allows to boil snow protected from the wind

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MICHEL D'OULTREMONT IN in the Dovrefjell National Park, Norway

Michel d'Oultremont is one of the most promising wildlife photographer of Belgium. Born in 1992, he discovers its passion at age 15 while observing rabbits using the binoculars of his father. At age 22 while still being a student, Michel wins the Rising Star Award and the prestigious Fritz Polking Award Jr the same year. He is the first to win both prizes.

Always in search of beauty, he prefers to capture a common animal in a beautiful environnement with exceptional light than catch a very rare animal in a pure documentary way.

 

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IMAGES TANGUY DUMORTIER

This, is what we came for; the muskox
These majestuous animals have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years since the ice age when they lived together with mammoths. 
During mating, bulls violently fight each other to establish harems.

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LOST IN THE ICY LANDSCAPE, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER MICHEL D'OULTREMONT FACES A MUSKOX  ©Jean-Marc Joseph

The search

After an hour walking from base camp, following tracks of animal footprints and tufts of fur, Michel finally spots the first herd of muskoxen.

Lost in an apparently desolated landscape, Michel d'Oultremont,  points his camera equipped with a massive long lens while In the distance, a 400kg muskox searches the snow for grasses, lichens and mosses.

"While photographing muskoxen you should keep a distance and approach slowly, without hiding. It is important that the animal notices you well in advance and acknowledge your presence."

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DOVREFJELL NATIONAL PARK IS NORWAY'S LARGEST CONTINUOUS PROTECTED AREA

Dovrefjell National Park provides habitat for arctic foxes, reindeer, wolverines and musk oxen.

You can be nothing but fascinated and respectful towards the capacity of Nature to create life capable of surviving in such an hostile environment.

Sunset

SUNSET AT 16H50 IN DOVREFJELL NATIONAL PARK 

With the sun going down as early as 16h50 in this nortern part of Europe, we have to adapt to get through the long and freezing cold evenings under the tent.

Wind

The bare landscape of Dovrefjell National Park is extremely exposed to strong winds which dramatically amplifies the sensation of cold and makes the camera work more demanding.

Despite their size, musk oxen are often difficult to spot in the monochrome environment. Tanguy strategically uses accessible summits as observation post to track the herds of animals.

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Star Gazing

The fact that today, most humans live in zones where star gazing is made impossible due to light pollution, makes us less spiritual and less respectful for our environnement.

In most ancient societies, the night sky was the starting point of a reflexion about the existence of a divine force, or at least, putting our terrestrial life into perspective.


Storm-Norway

SNOW INVADES THE VESTIBULE AS A STORM BADLY SHAKES THE TENT

The disease

On the third day, I started to feel really bad. Headache, bloqued nose and fever.. not an ideal situation when you're camping on snow at 2000m altitude.   

"That's when I realized that we left our pharmacy kit at the village, half a day hiking from our base camp."   

There was no way I could get there on my own, and as I did not want to jeopardize the expedition, I decided to stay.

Days and nights became agonizingly long, as both my condition and weather worsened. Tanguy on its side, improvised using a GoPro and a selfie stick to cover my absence. Don't do this at home...

Tanguy

 

Tanguy Dumortier is the presenter of 'Le Jardin Extraordinaire', Belgium's oldest (50 years) and most popular (500.000 viewers per show) nature TV program. His unique approach lies in the fact that he also directs and produces his own wildlife documentaries. His series 'Extraordinary Africa' has been bought by National Geographic and and broadcasted in more than 100 countries. We are frequent collaborators. 

CREDITS

A co-production
RTBF / CLAIR-OBSCUR PRODUCTIONS

Director / Host / Camera
TANGUY DUMORTIER

Camera / Assit. Director / Sound Recording
JEAN-MARC JOSEPH

Editing
ARNAUD DUPIRE

Color
BERTRAND LECLIPTEUX

Sound Editing / Mix
JOEY VAN IMPE
ROLAND VOGLAIRE

Music
THOMAS DELBART


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Phone: +34 679 75 56 40
Email: jm@superjeanmarc.com