Mass poaching of wild reindeer uncovered in Russia

26 April 2017

Reindeer & Caribou Russia Wildlife

An anti-poaching raid supported by WWF-Russia has uncovered more than 800 locations where wild reindeer appear to have been illegally killed. Roughly 20,000 reindeer have been poached in Russia since August 2016.

Game wardens, police officers, and inspectors from the Central Siberian Nature reserve travelled through the central Krasnoyarsk region. They found hundreds of dead reindeer, including many which had been discarded with no or little meat removed.

While regulated hunting is allowed here in season, the animals were killed in March and April, after the season had closed. Poaching - and legal loopholes which allow overhunting - are the primary threat to the country’s reindeer. Wild reindeer in Russia have declined by 40% in a few decades, from an estimated 1.5 million to 900,000 today.

"We had signs that poaching existed in this region, but the true scale of the phenomenon is outrageous," says Ivan Mizin, project coordinator at the WWF Russia Barents Office.

Wildlife crime inspectors in the Krasnoyarsk region face a number of challenges. The poachers are well armed and equipped with modern ATVs and snowmobiles, while the vast size of the region makes it difficult for inspection staff to adequately monitor poaching activity.

WWF-Russia will continue to support anti-poaching raids and improved population monitoring to map reindeer migration routes and likely poaching hotspots.


For further information, contact:
Dmitry Ryabov, WWF-Russia Barents Sea Office