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Forest reindeer in Kuznetsk Alatau Nature Reserve traveled hundreds of kilometers to Khakassia and returned back

24 december 2021
Scientists tracked the movement of a female deer and found out the areas of threats

A female wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus, valentinae) from the Kuznetsky Alatau Nature Reserve (Southern Siberia) in the Kemerovo Region has traveled hundreds of kilometers to neighboring Khakassia Republic and returned back. Half of the time the animal was resting, 19% of the time was feeding, 26% was walking, and 2% was running.

Forest reindeer on snow.
(с) Kuznetsk Alatau nature Reserve
“A female forest reindeer with a collar left the reserve at the beginning of October to the territory of the Oleniy Pass nature reserve in Khakassia, and later returned back. The running of the animal was recorded in the area where there is no conservation status, it is possible that the animal was pursued. We know: in this area, snowmobile drivers chase wild ungulates. Snowmobilers from the village of Priiskovy drive into the Oleniy Pass Wildlife Refuge and chase reindeer, which causes stress for the animals. Deers run from fear up to 10-15 kilometers, after such a run in 30-degree frost, the animal greatly loses weight, weakens and becomes easy prey for a predator. This threat must be taken into account when planning security measures”, says Aleksey Vasilchenko, WWF experts, drector of the Kuznetsky Alatau nature reserve.

The scientists tracked the movement and behavior of the deer within the framework of the project of the reserve and WWF-Russia using the satellite collar of the Kovzar system, which the employees of the Kuznetsky Alatau reserve put on the deer in August. Scientists tranquilized a female reindeer without a calf by firing a dart with an injection. So animals replenish the supply of trace elements in the body.

Such satellite collars allow you to track the behavior of the animal, areas where animals are exposed to threats, migration and develop security measures.

In 2017, Kuznetsky Alatau reserve put a radio-collar on another deer for the first time in the Kemerovo region and monitored the movement of the animal. The female deer repeated the route of this year's deer: the animal proceeded to Khakassia to the Oleniy Pass Wildlife Refuge and returned back the same way.

Director of Kuznetsk Alatau Nature Reserve while fitting a radio-collar to a deer.
(c) Kuznetsky Alatau Nature Reserve
“Tracking the forest reindeer in the Kuznetsky Alatau reserve showed that the grouping of the species is stable and viable. Over the past five years, the number has decreased slightly: for example, in 2021 there are fewer calves than in previous years, fewer large males. Strengthening protection, as well as raising the nature conservation status of the Oleniy Pass Wildlife Refuge will stop the threat from humans and preserve the forest reindeer population in Kuznetsk Alatau and adjacent areas ", says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Coordinator of Altai-Sayan Branch of WWF Russia.
Forest reindeer in Kuznetsk Alatau.
(с) Kuznetsk Alatau Nature Reserve

In 2021, with the support of WWF, Kuznetsky Alatau reserve also laid salt licks for wild deer in the reserve and installed camera-traps in places where ungulates are likely to appear, collected biomaterial - wool and excrement for DNA-analysis to assess the genetic diversity of the group.

In summer, in the Kuznetsk Alatau reserve, 160-165 individuals of the forest reindeer were counted, of which 130 deer were in the central part of the Kuznetsk Alatau ridge, in the north - up to 30-35 individuals. Up to 34.5% - males, 51% - females, deer born this year accounted for 14.1%. Scientists counted the deer on the snowfields, where the animals enter in the heat, fleeing insects.


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