Posts Tagged ‘reindeer’

Volvo’s C30 Electric freezes north of the Arctic Circle, chases reindeer and loses half its range (video)

March 26, 2011

By Tim Stevens, Engadget, Mar 23rd 2011 – Original article here

There are those predicting doom and gloom for electric cars when temperatures drop, and those steadfastedly saying that frigid batteries will not be the end of the road when it comes to fuel-free transportation. The reality lies somewhere in between, but Volvo’s at least doing the right thing: testing the frozen snot out of its C30 Electric way up north of the Arctic Circle. When things get really cold the car can use an ethanol-powered heater to keep things comfortable for both drivers and batteries and, at temperatures down to -30C (that’s -22F), the car has proven to manage a range of 80km, which is just a tick under 50 miles. Given the hatchback is rated for 100 miles of range when warmer that’s not exactly good news for Eskimo environmentalists who love Swedish cars. Still, it also must be said those are rather extreme conditions, as shown in the video below, which also includes footage of some extreme elk reindeer herding.

Update: Viktor wrote in to let us know that the creatures in the video are indeed reindeer, not elk. The person responsible for such an egregious factual error has been sacked, and a sizeable donation made to the “Save the Reindeer from Swedish EVs Foundation.”

Sami reindeer-herders in Sweden can sue the state

February 26, 2011
Friday february 18. 2011, original article here
Renskiljning i Mellanbyns sameby i Norrbotten. Foto: Anders Wiklund/Scanpix.

A district court in northern Sweden has ruled there is no reason why indigenous Samis there cannot sue the Swedish state for infringing on their fishing and hunting rights.

The court rejected the argument of state lawyers that there were legal errors in the suit. The Sami parliament, which has only advisory powers, had argued that the Sami people should have a major influence over fishing and hunting rights, rather than the Swedish state.

Speaking with Swedish Radio, Mattias Åhrén of the Sami Council, the organization representing the Samis across the Nordic region, says the ruling will have a major impact.

Yara: Mining in Lapland, enrichment on Kola

February 21, 2011

 

011-02-16 Barents Oberver – original article here
Fertilizer giant Yara says it is favourable to ship ore tailings from its coming Sokoli mine in Finnish Lapland to existing concentrator plant in Kovdor, just cross the Russian border.

 

Yara fertilizer plant and phosphate rock mining in Siilinjärvi near Kuopio in Finland.
Yara fertilizer plant and phosphate rock mining in Siilinjärvi near Kuopi in Finland.
Photo: Yara International ASA

The plan is to start mining in 2014-15. Technical and economic studies are now underway, but Yara Soumi Oy says already that building its own enrichment plant in Sokoli will be too costly.

– It make sense to use the existing concentrator plant for apatite, located only 50 kilometres away, instead of building a new one, says Eero Hemming, coordinator for the project in a press-note posted on Yara Suomi Oy’s own portal.

The concentrator plant in question is located in the Russian mining town of Kovdor, near the border to Finland on the Kola Peninsula.

Hemming says another reason to go for the Russian plant is to make less impact on the environment in the area near Sokli.

The up-coming mining of phosphate and niobium in Sokli has triggered protests from an ad-hoc environmental group. The group Save-Sokli claims the by-products make mining in the area extremely problematic.

Sokli is located in Savukoski, between the Urho Kekkonen National Park and the Värriö National Park, said to be the most significant wilderness camping area of Eastern Lapland. The mines will also influence on migration and grazing area of reindeers of Kemin-Sompio, the largest reindeer herdsman cooperative in Finland.


Urho Kekkonen National Park in Finnish Lapland is one of the most significant wilderness area in the Barents Region. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

By shipping the ore to Russia for concentration, Yara hopes to minimize the environmental impact in Finland.

Yara is now proceeding with the Kovdor plant’s owner EuroChem to find solutions for upgrading the ore at the existing plant cross the border from Sokli. Kovdor is Russia’s second biggest producer of apatite concentrate.

The regional news portal Barentsnova reported earlier in February that Murmansk governor Dmitri Dmitrienko recently approved a long-term program to modernize the plants in Kovdor and to construct production facilities for several other minerals.

According to Yara, ore mined in Sokli can be transported to Kovdor either by tube or train.

Yara has long history of doing business with the fertilizer industry on the Kola Peninsula. The company has bought apatite minerals from both the mines in Kovdor and in Kirovsk. The minerals are shipped from a special designed port in Murmansk to Yara’s fertilizer plants in Glomfjord and Herøya in Norway.

The port facilities for loading of apatite minerals in Murmansk.
The port facilities for loading of apatite minerals in Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

The mining plans in Sokli are welcomed by locals in Finnish Lapland. The mine will create jobs for 110-150 people, and even more in the construction period.

Yara will make a final decision on the mining and processing during 2012.

LATESTEco-groups protest Yara cross-border plans

Text: Thomas Nilsen

 

Reindeer or Caribou? Analysis at Discovery News

February 20, 2011

Analysis by Jennifer Viegas Thu Dec 23, 2010 Origial article here

Can the name Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer be used interchangeably with Rudolph the Red Nosed Caribou? Google the words “reindeer” and “caribou” together and you’ll see that they are often used to refer to the same animal.

Caribou
(Grazing reindeer/caribou; Credit- Dean Biggins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

In this week’s Discovery News story concerning Christmas trees and reindeer, I use both words, noting that reindeer are called “caribou” in North America. The longer explanation may be much more complex, however.

Cornell University conservation scientist Jeff Wells told me that “the taxonomy of caribou is in flux as more detailed genetic analysis continues, but it is clear there are at least two (possibly more) evolutionary lineages represented in North American caribou.”

He explained that one represents a lineage that was pushed south during the last glaciations and survived in what is now the United States. The other survived either in northern Asia or in a western North American refuge before it colonized, or recolonized, the Arctic regions of North America. Animal experts refer to this latter group as the “migratory barren-ground form.” Not as catchy as “reindeer,” but more descriptive.

The bottom line is that some animals called “caribou” now may be what people in Finland and other countries refer to as reindeer, and some may not. There may even be yet another species in the mix. Additional research will hopefully solve the present puzzle.

There’s a serious aspect to such research beyond word play, as some reindeer/caribou herds are nearing extinction, while others are doing OK.

“The largely non-migratory woodland caribou and mountain caribou forms are classified as threatened, though some herds are classified as endangered and some as ‘special concern,'” Wells explained.

More accurate taxonomy will help to better identify the animals of highest priority for conservation. For now, though, unless you are a proper name purist, Rudolph the Red Nosed Caribou works just as well as his better known name.

 

Berlin art exhibition “Soma” with live reindeer and canaries a success, AFP reports

February 8, 2011

Polnytt, 8. februar 2011


The unusual exhibition created by Carsten Hoeller contained living reindeer, mice and canaries, giant fly agaric mushroom sculptures, and was inspired by Hindu mysticism and Vedic writings, where a magical potion, a “food of the gods”, Soma, is mentioned. Scholars have looked at fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) for a possible natural explanation for the mythical Soma said to make people fly and “see the gods”.


Amanita Muscaria is considered poisonous, but has been eaten for food many places after parboiling. It contains the compound muscimol which is a hallucinogen. Siberian tribes reportedly drank the urine from reindeer that had eaten fly agaric mushrooms, and used the mushroom both for ritual and recreation.

On closing last sunday the exhibition had drawn close to 100, 000 visitors in the three months it was open. Visitors could even pay to camp in the installation overnight to fully immerse themselves in the experience.

AFP article here
Polnytt reposted article on the exhibition here
Carsten Hoeller website on the project here

Jonas Qvale/Hornorkesteret

Castration could save reindeer in warming Arctic

January 30, 2011

MSNBC – original article here

TROMSOE, Norway — Indigenous Sami peoples in the Arctic may have found a way to help their reindeer herds cope with climate change: more castration.

Research by Sami experts shows that sterilized males can grow larger and so are better at digging for food — as Arctic temperatures vary more, thawing snow often refreezes to form thick ice over lichen pastures.

Alissa de Carbonnel / AFP - Getty Images Reindeer herds like this one in Lovozero, Russia, are part of the native Arctic culture.

Neutered males are more able to break through ice with their hooves or antlers, and seem more willing than other males to move aside and share food with calves that can die of starvation in bad freeze-thaw winters like 2000-01.

“To make herds more resilient in the future, we need to re-learn the traditional knowledge of castration,” said professor Svein Mathiesen, coordinator of the University of the Arctic’s Institute of Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry.

More castration “could be useful to adapt to climate change,” he told Reuters in the Arctic city of Tromsoe. “These animals are very good diggers for the small calves in the most critical period of the winter.”

Castration has traditionally been used by reindeer herders, partly to make wild animals more docile. Herders on the Yamal peninsula in Russia still neuter about half of all males — usually by biting into the testicles with their teeth.

Far fewer animals are castrated outside Russia. About 100,000 Sami own about 2.5 million reindeer in homelands in the Nordic countries and Russia.

The traditional Sami biting technique aims for “half-castration” — under which the animals become sterile but still produce some of the male hormone testosterone that promotes muscle growth.

Sami in Norway, where laws limit castration to surgery with anesthetics, are now experimenting with a vaccine to recreate the effects of half-castration.

No interest in sex also helps neutered males in winter.

“Males castrated in the traditional way would have an increased chance of survival over other males since they maintain body weight and condition during the rutting season,” according to a research document by Eli Risten Nergaard of Sami University College.

The Arctic region is warming at double the global rate in a trend blamed by the U.N.’s panel of climate scientists on greenhouse gases from mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

Yamal herders castrate many of their reindeer, partly because they need strong, docile animals to pull heavy sleds. In Norway, Sami have come to rely on snow-scooters and get most money for calf meat, meaning most males are slaughtered young.

The Sami castration study indicates the complexities of adapting to the impacts of climate change. Many other scientists are focusing on issues such as how to cope with river floods or rising sea levels, or ways to develop drought-resistant crops.

Castrated reindeer also keep their antlers for much of the winter while normal males shed their antlers each autumn after the mating season. That implies that Rudolph, pulling Father Christmas’s sled, has been castrated.

Reindeer escapes in Sunderland!

December 19, 2010

Original article here

A reindeer has been spotted in the loose in Sunderland after escaping from its enclosure at a local park.

A reindeer like this was on the loose in Sunderland

A reindeer like this one escaped and trotted through the city centre

It’s thought that a dog scared the creature, causing it to leap over a fence and make a dash for freedom.

It trotted through the city centre, followed by police cars, while loads of people were out Christmas shopping.

The reindeer was finally caught and returned – unharmed – to the park, where extra fencing has now been put up to stop any more animal escapes.

Olive Fraser, who spotted the reindeer running through the street, said: “We were just standing in the forecourt of the garage and I just caught a glance.

“I knew it wasn’t a dog because it was so big but when I went out there was no sign of it.”

The council are now reminding dog owners to keep their pets on leads.

One scientist’s hobby: recreating the Ice Age

December 19, 2010

Russian claims his theory to introduce herds of animals to Siberia can slow global warming.

By ARTHUR MAX The Associated Press 11/27/2010
Original article here


Semi-wild Yakutian horses are seen at the Pleistocene Park, a 40,000 acre wilderness in northern Siberia, Russia. Russian scientist Sergey Zimov is trying to recreate conditions from the end of the Ice Age when this area was rich in wildlife and summer meadows.

CHERSKY, Russia — Wild horses have returned to northern Siberia. So have musk oxen, hairy beasts that once shared this icy land with woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats. Moose and reindeer are here, and may one day be joined by Canadian bison and deer.

Later, the predators will come — Siberian tigers, wolves and maybe leopards.

Russian scientist Sergey Zimov is reintroducing these animals to the land where they once roamed in millions to demonstrate his theory that filling the vast emptiness of Siberia with grass-eating animals can slow global warming.

“Some people have a small garden. I have an ice age park. It’s my hobby,” says Zimov, smiling through his graying beard. His true profession is quantum physics.

Climate change is felt most sharply in the Arctic, where temperatures are warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. Most climate scientists say human activity, especially industrial pollution and the byproducts of everyday living like home heating and driving cars, is triggering an unnatural warming of the Earth. On Monday, negotiators representing 194 countries open a two-week conference in Cancun, Mexico, on reducing greenhouse gases to slow the pace of climate change.

‘Interesting experiment’
Zimov is trying to recreate an ecosystem that disappeared 10,000 years ago with the end of the ice age, which closed the 1.8 million-year Pleistocene era and ushered in the global climate roughly as we know it.

He believes herds of grazers will turn the tundra, which today supports only spindly larch trees and shrubs, into luxurious grasslands. Tall grasses with complex root systems will stabilize the frozen soil, which is now thawing at an ever-increasing rate, he says.

Herbivores keep wild grass short and healthy, sending up fresh shoots through the summer and autumn. Their manure gives crucial nourishment. In winter, the animals trample and flatten the snow that otherwise would insulate the ground from the cold air. That helps prevent the frozen ground, or permafrost, from thawing and releasing powerful greenhouse gases. Grass also reflects more sunlight than forests, a further damper to global warming.

It would take millions of animals to change the landscape of Siberia and effectively seal the permafrost. But left alone, Zimov argues, the likes of caribou, buffalo and musk oxen multiply quickly. Wherever they graze “new pastures will appear … beautiful grassland.”

The project is being watched not only by climate scientists but by paleontologists and environmentalists who have an interest in “rewilding.”

“This is a very interesting experiment,” said Adrian Lister, of the Natural History Museum in London. “I think it’s valid from an ecological point of view to put back animals that did formerly live there,” he told AP Television News. He disapproved of suggestions to rewild nonnative species — for example, relocating elephants and rhinos to the American plains.

Zimov began the project in 1989, fencing off 160 square kilometers (40,000 acres) of forest, meadows, shrub land and lakes. It is surrounded by another 600 square kilometers (150,000 acres) of wilderness.

It is an offshoot of the Northeast Science Station, which he founded and where he has lived for 30 years. Already icebound by October, the park is 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland from the station, accessible only by boat in summer and by snow vehicles after the rivers freeze.

A 32-meter (105-foot) tower inside the park gives constant readings of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor. The data feeds into a global monitoring system overseen by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Zimov’s research on permafrost, greenhouse gas emissions and mammoth archaeology has attracted world scientists to his laboratories, a small cluster of cabins and a tiny chapel on a rocky bluff above a channel of the Kolyma River. A 20-bed barge is used for field trips in summer, and a $100,000 hovercraft is on order. Zimov sometimes uses an old Russian tank to bring supplies from the Chinese border, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away.

Part of the station’s attraction — and deterrence — is its remoteness. It is 6,600 kilometers (4,000 miles) and eight time zones east of Moscow. The nearby town of Chersky, with some 5,000 people, has few amenities, and the nearest city, Yakutsk, is a 4-1/2 flight. Many researchers, particularly Americans, prefer to work in Alaska or northern Canada, which are more accessible.

“Most of the Arctic is in Russia, and yet most of the Arctic research isn’t,” said Max Holmes, of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, director of the Polaris Project, which has sent undergraduates to the station for the last three summers.

‘What’s $1 million?’
Zimov started the park with a herd of 40 Yakutian horses, a semi-wild breed with a handsomely long mane that is raised by Yakuts and other native people for their meat. Short, sturdy and broad-backed, they survive harsh Siberian winters with the help of a furry hide, thick layers of fat and the ability to paw through a meter (3 feet) of snow to forage.

Of his first herd, Zimov said 15 were killed by wolves and bears, 12 died from eating wild hemlock that grows in the park, and two slipped through the perimeter and made their way back some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to their

But he bought more. Now the horses have learned to avoid poisonous plants and to resist predators. Over the last three years, more colts were born and survived than horses lost.

The challenge is to find the right balance between grazers and predators, and how to help his animals get through their first winters.

His workers still give occasional buckets of grain to the horses to supplement their diet with salt. About half the horses come regularly to the cabin where a caretaker stays year-round. The other half are rarely seen except for their tracks.

Zimov also has had problems with the moose that he brought inside his enclosure. Moose still live in small numbers in surrounding forests, and the males jump back and forth over the 6-foot-high fence.

In September he traveled to a nature reserve on Wrangel Island, about five hours by boat across the East Siberia Sea, and brought back six 4-month-old musk oxen. One died a few weeks later. The others are kept in a small enclosure and fed hay until they can fend for themselves.

His objective is to see whether a thriving population of grazing animals will regenerate grasslands that disappeared long ago, which would slow and even halt the accelerating pace of permafrost thaw. So far, he says, the results are encouraging.

Today he has 70 animals in the park. He wants thousands to restock Siberia. To bring 1,000 bison from North America would cost $1 million, Zimov says, a small price to pay.

“If permafrost melts, 100 gigatons of carbon will be released this century,” he said. “What’s $1 million? One regular grant.”

___

AP Television News producer Siobhan Starrs and APTN cameraman Dmitry Kozlov contributed to this story.

Reindeer ‘cruelty’ slammed by rights group

December 11, 2010


TheLocal.se – Sweden’s news in english Published: 7 Dec 10, original article here.

Reindeer are being tormented when slaughtered, according to the animal rights organisation World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA).

WSPA released a video on Monday that shows reindeer in distress when herded and transported, and while at the slaughterhouse.

“The film that we are showing is particularly shocking now that Christmas is upon us, but it clearly shows the cruel reality that reindeer are exposed to,” Roger Pettersson, secretary general of WSPA Sweden, said in a statement on Monday.

The footage also shows a reindeer being killed by a knife stab to the neck, as well as animals being earmarked by knife without anesthesia.

“This must be stopped immediately,” Pettersson told news agency TT on Monday.

WSPA tasked a journalist with investigating the conditions for reindeer on their way to slaughter.

“He followed the reindeer herding and observed the gathering, selection, transport and slaughter, and evidence shows a high stress level for the animals. The reindeer are stressed during transport and their antlers become entangled. Even during branding, the animals are treated poorly,” said Pettersson.

He said it is a challenge to handle reindeer, which are semi-domesticated animals and not accustomed to people.

“Densely packed into transport vehicles, reindeer antlers become weapons. They get caught in the sides of transport vehicles and they can even hurt each other before they reach the slaughterhouse,” Pettersson said in a statement.

As such, Pettersson advocated the use of smaller mobile slaughterhouses such that the slaughterhouse move, not the reindeer.

According to the WSPA, the problem of distressed reindeer is similar in all Nordic countries. It said it will call on the the Nordic Council of Ministers to urge it to act.

The council adopted a declaration in 2008 that animals should be treated as sentient beings, have intrinsic value, and should be respected accordingly.

However, the Swedish National Sami Association (Svenska Samernas Riksförbund, SSR) has rejected the WSPA’s claims that reindeer are subjected to cruel conditions and vowed to take action against herders who use unsanctioned methods.

“From the reindeer’s point of view, we do not accept slaughter methods that are not sanctioned by the authorities. We take a stand against individual reindeer owners who use knives in organised slaughter,” Jorgen Jönsson, the chairman of the SSR, said in a statement on Monday.

SSR national director Anders Blom added that he is adamantly against the use of a knife to kill reindeer.

“This is naturally something that is upsetting, but we have nothing against someone observing how we do our job. We have nothing to be nervous about,” SSR national director Anders Blom told TT on Monday.

“We only use approved methods and have been working with government agencies to create programs for the treatment of animals based upon existing regulations,” he added.

Research by the SSR, in collaboration with Sweden’s University of Agriculture(Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, SLU), shows that the stress levels of reindeer which are slaughtered has decreased during the last couple of years and are now at acceptable levels, according to Blom.

“You measure the animals’ pH levels. The limit for a healthy animal that is not stressed during slaughter is 5.8. Fifteen years ago, 30 percent of the animals were above that value – today it is 8 percent. Most show no signs of stress,” he said.
TT/Vivian Tse (news@thelocal.se)

 

Reindeer Pie at Battersea Pie Station, Covent Garden

December 3, 2010

The British do not regularly eat reindeer meat, but they are now being exposed to it as the market for this excellent meat is expanding. Earlier we saw outrage as Lidl stores started to sell the product. Now you can have delicious reindeer pie at Battersea Pie Station, London. But why did they call it “Rudolph” – how unimaginitive.

Hornfar

By Chris Osburn · December 3, 2010
Original article here


Poor Rudolph. Ostracised for his abnormalities until Santa figured out how to exploit him. Then, when no longer of use, the red nosed flying hoofer got sent off to a North Pole abattoir to be made into pie for Londoners.

Battersea Pie Station inside Covent Garden Market (not sure what’s with the “Battersea” title), launched their “Rudolph” reindeer pie this afternoon. We whisked round for a sample (word is Londonist was the first to try it in shop) at lunch and found it a heartily warming treat for such a winter’s day.

Made from organic free-range (not farmed) Swedish reindeer meat in a red wine and mushroom sauce and garnished with a dusting of herbs, it’s good value at £6.00 eat in or £5.00 takeaway . Low in fat, high in protein and rich in minerals, it’s also pretty tasty. We had ours doused in gravy and served alongside some decent mash and flavourful red cabbage (sides start at £1) and reckon we won’t need to worry about dinner tonight.

“The Rudolph” is available from today (no word on when they’ll pull it from the menu) at Battersea Pie Station (Lower Ground Floor, 28 The Market, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RA). Visit www.batterseapiestation.co.uk for more info.