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Key experts join forces to save reindeer in the Central Arctic
22 october 2019
Active interaction of all parties, joint scientific research and support from the Ministry of Natural Resources — these are obligatory conditions to conserve the world's largest - Taimyr-Evenki - population of wild reindeer. Such conclusions were reached by participants of a working meeting held in Krasnoyarsk at the initiative of WWF-Russia.
The meeting resulted in the establishment of a working group, which included the heads of environmental ministries and departments of the Krasnoyarsk Region and Yakutia, representatives of nature protected areas, practical and academic science, indigenous peoples of the north, deputies of the district councils of Evenkia and Taimyr, environmental NGOs.
“The meeting turned out to be very representative and constructive,” said Sergey Verkhovets, WWF-Russia expert. - We are glad that we managed to bring together such a wide range of stakeholders. This only confirms that the state of the Taimyr (Essenes) population of wild reindeer is really critical and requires close attention of the authorities, environmentalists, scientists and business.”
The fact that the reindeer population in Taimyr is declining is beyond doubt - the number has almost halved - to 400-450 thousand individuals - compared with the 2000 level (about 880 thousand). However, the reasons for this phenomenon are not so clear and caused a heated dispute among scientists: this may be both the impact of climate change, and, consequently, the depletion of pastures, and poaching.
Therefore, the question of the need for further research and large-scale surveys of wild reindeer in Taimyr, Evenkia and Yakutia was raised repeatedly. But the costs are so great that there is no simple solution to this problem yet.
Nevertheless, specialists are already conducting serious work to study and protect the Taimyr reindeer, with the support of WWF-Russia as well.
“The number of state inspectors in Taimyr and Evenkia over the past two years has grown from 2 to 24 people,” says Vladimir Krever, scientific director of biodiversity conservation program, WWF-Russia. - We try to support them with equipment, fuel and necessary communication and navigation equipment. Specialists are introducing a SMART system into their work, which makes it possible to conduct route counts and observations more efficiently. And also, with the support of WWF, tagging of reindeer with satellite collars is carried out, thanks to which it is possible to trace the migration routes of animals. ”
This work will only expand - as part of the new project, it is planned to involve more than 10 organizations working with satellite collars and set transmitters on at least 200 reindeer.
Specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia are also concerned about the state of the wild reindeer population. Last week federal ministry called on the Krasnoyarsk Region and Yakutia to take measures to protect the species, up to a complete ban on hunting. Participants of the meeting supported the initiative, and proposed not a complete ban, but a change in the hunting terms: open a month later and close a month earlier. This will make it possible to level out the situation with a possible over-harvest of the population.