Tribes all around the world, such as Russia’s Nenets, depend on reindeer for their survival.

A reindeer herd which was once the largest in the world has shrunk to a fraction of its former size, official surveys have revealed.

Canada’s George River Herd once numbered 8-900,000, but a recent government survey found only 27,600 animals survive.

The herd’s unprecedented and dramatic decline has left local indigenous people fearful for its survival.

A ‘tsunami of factors’ has been blamed for the decline, which government ministers have called ‘significant and frightening.’

The reindeer, known as caribou in North America, is central to the lives and culture of many indigenous peoples in the sub-Arctic. The 63% population drop just in the last two years has left many of them shocked.

Speaking to Survival, George Rich, an elder from northeast Canada’s Innu people, said, ‘one of the major factors is continued mining and mineral exploration.

‘For example, Quest Minerals has recently announced that it wants to build a road through the heart of the calving grounds, as well as flying helicopters and planes back and forth from exploration sites.’

Canada’s promotion of industrial projects on its land has destroyed large tracts of the reindeer’s grazing grounds, heavily disrupting migratory routes.

The herd’s decline has led some biologists to blame indigenous hunting practices. However the Innu, who have co-existed with the caribou for thousands of years, have been quick to defend themselves.

Rich said, ‘the government always blames the Aboriginal people, but we are deeply connected to the caribou and have lived with them for generations.’

 A migrating caribou herd, who are making their journey in declining numbers.

Many Innu are calling for greater control over their territories and resources, and to be treated as equals in decisions that affect their lands and the animals that live there.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director said today, ‘It’s easy to blame indigenous peoples for over-hunting because they’ve usually no voice to defend themselves from these accusations. Yet it’s been proven in countless studies that they are the world’s best conservationists. When will governments and scientists realize this? We need to start listening to what indigenous peoples have to say about matters on their own land: they know best.’

Responses to "Christmas crisis for Canada’s iconic reindeer herd"

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is just More proof that mankind search and destroy anything that gets in their way of getting what the corporations want, in this case Minerals !! Mankind will become as extinct, as the animals become closer to extinction! how clever will mankind look then? when the eco balance has been lost, destroyed by corporate greed in the name of share holders. Who are you share holders? you to are guardians of the earth also, what will you do, when in your name the world comes to a grinding halt! and its mankind time to die! all because of you!!!! can't eat your money then!! So keep up your silence and greedy selfish inconsiderate ways, hiding who you are like thieves and cowards in the night... Don't forget to tell your children their bed time story's of how you killed the earth for Money!!!!!!! signed; Rainbow Warrior Community.... We see you ! do you see what you do ? WAKE UP!!!!!

  2. KayEl says:

    My heart is breaking..
    My breath, cold and misty..
    I long to hear the thunder of caribou..
    only in dreams, only in dreams..
    From my tears, from my heart, from my dreams..
    Heal the earth, heal the earth, oh heal the earth..
    Caribou, brother, I dance, I dance, I follow your call..
    Heal the earth, heal the earth, heal the earth.....ahay yaya

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