“People here in Värmland have rung me and said they haven’t seen him since the winter,” Ulf Jonasson, whose documentary about the elk was released last year, told The Local.
“I’ve now been here a few days, looking around his favourite places, and I’m a little bit worried that maybe something has happened to him.”
Johansson’s documentary, ‘The White King of the Forest’, has been watched by 750,000 people since it was aired on Sweden's state broadcaster SVT this June.
The elk achieved viral fame when Hans Nilsson, a city councillor from Eda, one of the villages frequented by the elk, filmed it last August and uploaded his film on Facebook.
The clip was picked up by BBC and MSN and shared thousands of times on social media.
But long before Nilsson's clip, Jonasson had been tracking and following the stately animal for a long-term nature documentary, the success of which he put down to Ferdinand’s size and attractive personality.
“I called him Ferdinand, because he’s like the bull Ferdinand in the Disney film: he’s very gentle and calm, and not so frightened, and he’s big, he’s majestic, so he’s really king of the forest up here. There’s no animal in the world quite like this.”
Jonasson said it was not unusual for him not to be able to find Ferdinand immediately.
“Sometimes I could follow him for several days, without a problem, but then it could go weeks or sometimes a month before I found him again.”
But whenever he had not been able to find Ferdinand in the past, he said, he had always heard from others who had recently spotted him, so he finds his current absence worrying.
“There are a number of villages up here, and there people pretty see him pretty regularly, and they haven’t seen him since January, he said. “I followed him for four years, and so I have an emotional connection, naturally.”
Jonasson speculated that Ferdinand could have been killed by wolves, who hunt elk in packs, or else fallen through this year’s unusually soft ice and drowned in a lake.
“But I hope he hasn’t hurt himself and that he will pop up somewhere again,” he said.
Jonasson intends to keep searching for a few more days before returning north to his home in Jämtland.