“Into the Arctic Kingdom” showcases an Alaskan wildlife refuge on the edge

Magnificent Muskoxen ram heads in the Alaskan wilderness
Photo by Florian Shulz

For more than 25 years German-born photojournalist Florian Schulz, co-founder of the International League of Conservation Photographers, has been championing wilderness like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Through his camera he advocates globally for wildlife corridors, those forested strips connecting precious patches of wildlife habitat in developed areas; marine counterparts exist too. He’s expounded on his pet “freedom to roam” theme in his books “Yellowstone to Yukon,” “The Wild Edge,” and “To the Arctic.”

The latter’s subject territory forms the basis of his “Into the Arctic Kingdom” presentation for National Geographic Live, coming to the Broad Stage Thursday and Friday. Schulz camped out for weeks during subarctic winters, followed massive caribou herds and polar bear families with weighty camera gear, and traveled alongside Inuit hunters to capture prehistoric-looking muskoxen butting heads as well as relaxed moments of wolves at play. There’s nothing sexy or simple about lying still on frigid ground in wait for such spontaneous moments, nor in feverishly chasing light; but the discoveries those actions yield are Schulz’s artistic and professional bread and butter. In 2015, President Barack Obama used some of his spectacular footage when announcing plans to protect ANWR’s fragile ecosystem and coastal plains.

Since last year’s surprise insertion of a bill opening ANWR to drilling into the GOP tax legislation, it’s no longer fantastical to contemplate the loss of such Arctic wildlife corridors. The refuge’s 19 million-plus acres are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change — and politics. Disdaining the conclusions of its own recently issued climate report, the Trump administration has fast-tracked its controversial plans to explore there for oil; the New York Times just reported time periods for completing environmental impact and seismic testing evaluations have been halved. Against that backdrop, Shulz’s photos scream loudly.

— Bliss Bowen

National Geographic Live presents “Into the Arctic Kingdom” with Florian Schulz at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 13 and 14, at the Broad Stage (1310 11th St., Santa Monica). $55 to $90. Call (310) 434-3200 or visit thebroadstage.org/natgeoarctic. 

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