A southern Alberta wildlife photographer says he feels honoured to have taken some incredible shots of a majestic ram, now that the animal, known by some as the King of Waterton, has died.
"He was beautiful," Lethbridge-based photographer John Krampl told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.
"Absolutely beautiful. Just to see him on the mountain, and how proud he was, really gave you a nice feeling in your heart."
Krampl says the King was different than other rams in Waterton Lakes National Park and surrounding area.
"I found him the first year I got my camera, in 2016. I really thought I had done something because I got some fairly good pictures. Then in 2020, I got him up on the mountain, right up on the rocks," he said.
"It took me an hour to climb up where he was. It was Christmas morning and the wife wasn't really pleased that I went out at that time. It was really something to see him up there, and how proud he was in his environment. He really stood out."
But that was in the King's prime. Just a few months later, in May of 2021, things had changed.
"His muscle loss was incredible since December. You knew he wasn't going to be around long. I felt he was dying. Another photographer I talked to the next morning, he said there were four Fish and Wildlife trucks parked right where I told him where the ram was."
The King left an imprint on Krampl, inspiring the photographer to compile a self-published coffee table book of images.
"Every photographer knew him. He was something that many photographers followed, and I was lucky enough to get in on him three times. I've talked to people who spent 40 trips up there and never did see him," he said.
"He really had a special place in my heart. To be able to photograph such a magnificent animal — nature is really amazing."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener