On Monday, during our hike to Mairaaluk and back, Lilianne and I spotted a herd of muskoxen grazing on the tundra in the near distance. There were eight – seven adults and a baby.
Excited and camera-ready, we approached them slowly and cautiously. They hesitated a moment, almost posing as we kneeled in the tundra to photograph them, before the adults formed a protective circle around the baby (as is their defence mechanism). There was still enough distance between us and them, however, for us (or at least me) to not feel threatened.
In a slow and kind of round-about way, we continued to approach them. They held their stance in the circle but showed no sign of charging. We moved closer; they continued to stand still and stoically, allowing us to photograph them from every few feet. Then suddenly, when all that stood between us was about 100 metres of rock and shrub, they broke their protective circle and walked away calmly.
We followed them.
They stopped at the top of a hill further into the land, and we approached again. Each time we neared, they distanced themselves from us, more and more hastily each time until they eventually disappeared from sight.
I feel bad for scaring them, but it was a thrill to chase them – an awesome and rare opportunity!
Muskoxen on the tundra on the way to Mairaaluk.
Muskoxen forming a protective circle around the baby.
Me, chasing the muskoxen, trying to get a close-up. They disappeared just over the hill – they were too fast for me!