Distinguished photographer of nature dies at 88

Lech Wilczek, a naturalist, photographer and writer, the partner of the legendary biologist from the Białowieża Forest, Simona Kossak, died on Friday morning at the age of 88.

Born in 1930, Lech Wilczek studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He was the author of books and photographic albums about nature, a lover and observer of nature, a defender of the natural environment. For almost half a century, he was associated with the Bialowieza Forest.

In 1971, Lech Wilczek moved to the forester's lodge near Dziedzinka in the Białowieża Forest. After some time, Simon Kossak - a young biologist who wanted to explore the primeval forest surrounding the area, moved into the cottage, to its second premise.

They both dreamed of loneliness and silence, but it turned out that they found a common language, and that they complemented each other. Simona Kossak would conduct scientific research, make broadcasts on the radio and write books. Lech Wilczek would take photographs and work on improving the home.

"They were one of the most beautiful and creative couples I know. Although the beginnings of their relationships were harsh, this extremely strong, beautiful relationship lasted 36 years, until the death of Simona,” Joanna Kossak, a niece of Simona Kossak recalled.

Lech Wilczek found a constant source of artistic inspiration while living in the forest. He captured life around the cottage in his photographs. Both he and Simona Kossak would bring home sick or orphaned animals, many of which became permanent residents of the village. There were, among others, birds of prey, capercaillie, many deer, badgers, foxes and martens, which once vandalised the house. In addition, there was a moose, doe, black stork and a white stork who put its beak into a bucket with green paint, and it remained covered in paint for half a year since it turned out to be very durable. Last but not least, there was also a donkey and a cow.

Lech Wilczek is the author of books and photo albums including "Face to Face" (1959), "Egg of an uneven egg" (1961), "Hamsters" (1968), "The Tale About a Raven" (1996), "The Tale of Badgers" (2005), "Meeting with Simona Kossak" (2011). He also wrote articles for the "Przyroda Polska" monthly.