La carne dell'orso

Carlo Lombardi

2019 - 2022


“That was bear meat. Now, many years have passed, and I regret having eaten so little of it. I think and hope that each of you has gleaned from life what I have. Well, none of these things, not even remotely, has the taste of bear meat: the taste of being strong and free, which means free to make mistakes; the taste of being your own master, which means master of the world.”

Primo Levi, The Periodic Table, Iron.


The project aims to provide a global vision on the fragile relationship between man and nature through an investigation into the ethical, symbolic and anthropological evolution of conservation practices adopted over time to protect Apennine bears. The work traces the history of the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (PNALM) in a 100-year frame, based on the collection of images and archival texts of the Park depicting its landscape and fauna since 1922. The work analyzes the various ways in which our perception of what is considered ethically correct when it comes to nature conservation has been transformed, revealing how much this is influenced by the cultural context and the political climate in which this observation takes place. The project shows the proven threats to the Marsican brown bear, revealing how these are directly linked to human interference. The Apennine bear is on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the category of species “critically endangered”. Only 50 bears remain in the territory protected by the Park. The work aims to show the conservation actions taken to save bears, highlighting the renewed efforts based on applied research and the issues related to basic ecology and the human dimension. The research moves away from attributing human characteristics and qualities to the representation of bears, favoring a narrative aimed at instilling a doubt in the understanding of our personal relationship with wild animals, revealing how much this is conditioned by the needs and desires we have towards the nature.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Park rangers present two bear cubs to a small crowd gathered for an event next to the town hall. In 1943 an old bear living in the Park zoo dies and authorities decide to bring new bears to the zoo for visitors to admire. The one-month old bear cubs are taken by the Park rangers after waiting for the mother bear to leave the den. According to the Park, due to the absen-
    ce of mother’s care the puppies die within a short time.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Lecce dei Marsi (AQ) 1955

  • Beech forest within the territory of the Abruzzo Park. Forest covers 60% of the land area of the Park with 90% of it consisting of beech-woods.
    Villavallelonga (AQ) 2019

  • Man of anonymous identity poses for a portrait holding two wild bear cubs. The cubs have been separated from their mother and taken to the Park’s zoo in order to replace the deceased bear. According to the Park,
    they have died shortly after being captured.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Lecce dei Marsi (AQ) 1955

  • Topographic maps used for research purposes within the Scientific De- partment of the Park. The department consists of biologists and veteri- narians who work with research, conservation and census of fauna and flora, as well as the management of wildlife areas and animals in captivity.
    Pescasseroli (AQ) 2021

  • Skeletal reconstruction of a prehistoric bear belonging to the collection of the Marsican Bear Museum. The museum serves an educational and environmental function. Majella National Park, which has areas frequented
    by the Marsican brown bear, owns the Marsican Bear Museum.
    Palena (CH) 2020

  • Giuseppe Di Nunzio, a former Park ranger of the PNALM, poses for a por- trait. Giuseppe is one of the pioneers in documenting the behavior of the Marsican brown bear through photography.
    Villettabarrea (AQ) 2020

  • The view of the concrete water collection tank, in which five bears have drowned between 2010-2018 in the territory outside of PNALM. The bears went down into the pit looking for water and were unable to get out due to the steep walls. In 2018, following the second incident of 3 bears drow- ning, the pit has been filled with stones and an electrified fence has been
    installed around it.
    Villavallelonga (AQ) 2019

  • Male Marsican brown bear weighing 108 kg is being rescued. The bear wounded with a rifle is then drugged and transported to the Park head- quarters in Pescasseroli for veterinary treatment. In the absence of special surveillance, a shepherd shoots the bear in the back, breaking its spine. The animal dies despite the Park’s attempts to save it after a long and
    excruciating agony. The shepherd receives a small fine of 12,000 lire.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Scanno (AQ) 1973

  • Marsican brown bear hosted at the “visitor center and nature reserve”, The Park’s Visitor Center is an equipped area where it is possible to observe specimens of the main fauna of the Park. The animals hosted by the Visitor Center were not captured in the wild, but they are found injured or with
    problems that do not allow them to live in the wild.
    Pescasseroli (AQ) 2019

  • Marsican brown bear cubs deprived of the care of their mother are being nursed by a dog. The cubs, named Villa and Marcolana, have been illegally taken by woodcutters in the area of Aceretta in the municipality of Villa- vallelonga. The bears have been recovered by the Park rangers and then
    transferred to the Park headquarters.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Pescasseroli (AQ) 1955

  • A Park ranger chases away a bear using a shotgun loaded with non-lethal bullets. The use of non-lethal weapons against bears is part of the Negati- ve conditioning techniques. It involves continuous and consistent admini- stration of negative stimuli to the bear in order to reduce the manifestation of habituation to humans. The actions, carried out by trained operators, consist of assuming postures of dominance towards the bear, producing
    noise and inflicting pain through the use of non-lethal rubber bullets.
    Carrito (AQ) 2021

  • Park ranger detects the position of a radio-collared bear approaching a village. Radio telemetry is a monitoring and research technique based on attaching a radio collar to an animal. It allows to locate and track the mo- vements of animals by the GPS localizations acquired by the collar, as well
    as by triangulation through the radio signal emitted by the collar.
    Carrito (AQ) 2021

  • Armando Petrella, Head of the Park rangers, and Leonardo Costini, Secre- tary of the Park, show the skin of a Marsican brown bear. The skin belongs to a bear hit by a train near the Sant’Ilario station between Roccaraso and Alfedena. The animal was recovered by the Park rangers and transported to the headquarters of the Park in Pescasseroli in order to be skinned and analyzed. The report shows that in addition to the crushed skull the bear also suffered a fracture of the pelvis. Animal flaying occurred whenever a bear or a wolf was found dead. The practice was used to perform a rudimentary autopsy on the remains to trace the causes of death and to
    recover the body (where possible) for taxidermy.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Pescasseroli (AQ) 1976

  • Actor wearing a carnival mask of the winter propitiatory rites “The bear dance” poses for a portrait. The event starts with the bear man being kept in chains by a tamer and his assistant who force him to dance while thre- atening him with a stick. Occasionally, the group knocks on the doors of the houses and the host families offer drinks and food. The bear dance can also be found in fertility rites and ancient shamanic rites as a means to get into contact with the animal spirits to propitiate a succesful hunt. The event, interrupted with the start of the Second World War, was reproposed
    again by the director Pierluigi Giorgio.
    Jelsi (CB) 2019

  • An employee of the Park and a volunteer transport a taxidermized bear to the zoo of Pescasseroli.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Pescasseroli (AQ) 70’s

  • Teresa Palladini, Park ranger, poses for a portrait. Teresa is based on the Molise side of the Park. The Park extends over an area of 50,500 hectares, covering three regions of central Italy: Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.
    Villetta Barrea (AQ) 2021

  • Stuffed Marsican brown bear, collection of the “MOrso” bear museum. On the Molise side of the Park, the “MOrso” bear museum offers an exhibition itinerary dedicated to the natural history of the bear and its relationship
    with man.
    Pizzone (IS) 2019

  • Brown bear fetus from the deposit of the Park’s Scientific Department.
    Pescasseroli (AQ) 2021

  • Caves of Stiffe, inside of which the skeleton of a prehistoric cave bear has been found. The bear population of the central Apennines has been described as a subspecies, under the name of Ursus arctos marsicanus, by Giuseppe Altobello, a Molise naturalist who studied the fauna of Molise and Abruzzo, in 1921. Altobello has observed similarities between the skull
    of the Marsican brown bear and that of the prehistoric cave bear.
    San Demetrio dei Vestini (AQ) 2020

  • Bullets extracted from the carcass of a Marican brown bear killed with rifle shots. The bear killed in the Valle Fredda area dies of fatal gunshot wounds in the groin. The rifle will then be confiscated by the Park.
    Carlo Lombardi from the PNALM photographic archive Opi (AQ) 1974