For three autumns, Swedish municipal councillor Hans Nilsson has combed forest in the Värmland region in the country’s west to capture footage of a rare white moose.
Last week, the nature lover was successful — and his short video of the moose (believed to be an eight-year-old bull) has gone viral on social media and global news sites, fast clocking up more than 1.4 million views.
“It’s a fantastic animal. It’s so big and white, like coming out of a fairytale,” Mr Nilsson told Canada’s CTV News. “It was amazing.”
Efter tre års letande blev det äntligen napp för Hans Nilsson i Eda. Igår kväll kom den vita älgtjuren simmandes rakt mot hans kamera. Här är filmen! /helgreporter Annika
Posted by P4 Värmland Sveriges Radio on 2017年8月12日
He first saw the moose on August 10, but didn’t capture the encounter on film. The next day, he left work at the council chambers in Charlottenburg to try again.
Only about 100 white moose are believed to live in the area, out of a general population estimated at 400,000.
Near a tiny gravel road, Mr Nilsson spotted the moose about 10 metres away, on the other side of a river.
“Everything fell into place — the location, the light and the calmness,” he told Swedish digital news publisher The Local. “It was an experience to meet such a stately animal up close.”
After stopping to eat long grass, the moose headed to the water for a drink and dip. As it waded gamely into the river, Mr Nilsson started filming what turned into a 20-minute close encounter.
“He knew that I was there all the time and when he swam over, he shook his body to get rid of the water, and he turned his face towards me and looked straight into the camera,” he said.
“It was just like he was telling me, ‘Did you get that?’”
While even the moose’s antlers appeared white, experts have weighed in, saying the animal probably isn’t an albino, and its headline-making appearance is the result of a recessive gene that causes the animal’s fur to turn white with specks of brown.
While the condition is rare, in June two white moose twins were filmed in Norway, and Goran Ericsson, professor of elk and moose for the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, told National Geographic it’s possible the white moose population is growing because of a lack of predators.
“Hunters have chosen to not kill any moose that are light,” said Professor Ericsson.
For Professor Nilsson, the experience transcended his elevation—or at least that of his moose encounter—to brief fame. “It was a great feeling,” he said, “when you see such a unique animal that is not at all concerned with people.”