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© Mikhail Bondar
Wild reindeer in Russia facing extinction

24 September 2019 - Russian researchers were devastated to discover that the Yenisei reindeer of the Taimyr Peninsula have completely disappeared. Their recent study also revealed that the Tarey group, which numbered 44,000 in 2017, now only amounts to a few thousand reindeer. These are just some of the impacts that climate change and poaching are having on the wild reindeer populations that live in the Taimyr Nature Reserve.

Mikhail Bondar is the Head of the scientific department of Taimyr Directorate of Nature Reserves. He said that strict state controls need to be placed on hunting. He feels they should close the hunt for one year.

Otherwise, the Taimyr population of wild reindeer will share the fate of American bison, Russian saigas and some smaller populations of wild reindeer of Russia, knocked out for the sake of human greed.

Year-old calves were also few in numbers. This summer researchers recorded the lowest percentage of newborn calves in the last 40 years on the Kheta River, an alarming 5-7%. Reindeer were also rarely observed on the main migratory routes crossing the Pyasina and Tareya rivers. And population numbers were low in areas where herds graze during the summer.

What's causing the decline?

© Mikhail Bondar
Poaching
Poachers actively look for and kill the largest members of the herd for the trophy of their antlers. This is considered the main cause of the decline by experts in Russia.
© Mikhail Bondar
Climate change
Shifting weather patterns are affecting the migration of the reindeer herds. Rivers are opening earlier in the spring and when herds cross them, many newborn calves die. The climate crisis is also affecting their food supply.

What WWF is doing

Keeping scientists connected
Satellite telephones and equipment for communication and internet access even in the most remote territories helps support researchers.
Tracking reindeer
WWF provided collars with satellite transmitters enabling researchers to monitory the migratory patterns of 30 reindeer over the past two years.
© Alexei Ebel / WWF-Canon
You can help
See what WWF-Russia is doing to help reindeer and support their work.
WWF-Russia