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Премия рунета 2017

Scientists sound alarms: wild reindeer in Taimyr is under risk of extinction

20 august 2019
A research expedition to study wild reindeer, organized with the support of WWF-Russia, got back from Taimyr Peninsula. The conclusions of scientists are the most disappointing: there is a risk in a few years to completely lose this unique biological resource for the population of Taimyr, northern Evenkia and the western regions of Yakutia.

For 2 weeks, experts of the Taimyr Nature Reserves, the Central Siberian Reserve and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences examined the territory ​​more than 80 thousand square kilometers on the Taimyr Peninsula with, passed more than 3000 kilometers by air, and another 1700 kilometers along the Pyasina River and its tributaries.

Preliminary findings sound frightening even for experienced professionals. The Yenisei deer group has disappeared. The most western group - the Tarey group, which numbered 44 thousand individuals in 2017, - has decreased several times and amounts to only several thousand animals.

Mikhail Bondar / WWF-Russia

Scientists also note a very low proportion of year-old calves. This year in the beginning of summer, the lowest level of newborn calves in the last 40 years was recorded on the Kheta River - only 5-7%.

Extremely few deer were observed on the main migratory routes crossing the Pyasina and Tareya rivers, and in the places of summer concentrations the concentrations were not found at all, only few herds and single individuals were noted.

“The results of the expedition raise serious concerns. All the more valuable is the data obtained during monitoring. That is why WWF-Russia has been supporting the study and conservation of wild reindeer in Central Siberia for several years,” says Irina Onufrenya, Head of Arctic projects, WWF-Russia. - So, this year we provided satellite telephones and equipment for communication and Internet access even in the most remote territories to the specialists. And also provided collars with satellite transmitters. For two years in Taimyr more than 30 reindeer were marked with radio beacons, scientists in real time monitor the migratory movements of animals.”
Putting sattelite collars on the reindeer
Mikhail Bondar / WWF-Russia

Experts agree that 2 main factors influenced the decrease in the number and violation of the structure of the Taimyr reindeer population. The main reason is the unprecedented illegal hunting. Poachers not only massively kill the largest animals in the herd, but also cut off males` antlers, which leads to a decrease in reproductive function.

In addition, climate change leads to a shift in the timing and routes of migration of the species, rivers open earlier in the spring, and when herd crosses them, many newborn calves die. The food supply is also changing, and places of calving of wild deer are shifting to the south of Taimyr.

“In the current situation, it is naive and criminal to think that a population will be able to stop the decline and stabilize its population through population mechanisms,” emphasizes Mikhail Bondar, Head of the scientific department of Taimyr Directorate of Nature Reserves. - The only way to stop the defeat of a population is through strict state control over the use of this natural resource and limiting the real amount of withdrawal by a science-based limit and allocated quotas. A cardinal way to solve the problem is to close the hunt for 1 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."

According to experts, it is necessary to take radical measures to reform the resource management system of the Taimyr population of wild reindeer, which include the elaboration of legislative frameworks, administrative and legal regulation mechanisms, economic and scientific aspects, and optimization of the network of nature protected areas.

For additional information please contact
Leading projects coordinator
Press officer of the Barents projectBarents sea ecoregional programme