Mikel Utsi (a Sami from Sweden) and his wife Dr. Ethel Lindgren were the co-founders of the Reindeer Company and introduced the reindeer into the Cairngorms back in 1952. Mr. Utsi devoted his latter years to the practical day to day management of the project, and it was his own zeal and devotion to reindeer that really made the project a success. Dr. Lindgren supported him throughout and continued his efforts after 1979 when he died until her death in 1988. Below is an account of the introduction of the reindeer into Scotland written by Mikel Utsi himself.

“Looking across Rothiemurchus Forest to the Cairngorms from the railway bridge at Aviemore on a cold morning in April 1947, I was instantly reminded of reindeer pastures in Lapland. Travel in the Highlands showed that many species of ground, rock and tree lichens, which are elsewhere the chief food of reindeer, were plentiful and of little use to other animals. Red deer and domestic livestock were grazing on grass and plants less important to reindeer. Later, I heard that, according to the Orkneyinga saga, red deer and reindeer were hunted together in Caithness by the Earls of Orkney about eight centuries ago. I also learned that small groups of reindeer had been introduced by landowners into northern parts of Britain in the last two centuries, but had soon died.”

In 1952, I brought some of my Swedish mountain reindeer to Scotland as an experiment, to show that they could live and breed in these surroundings. Official difficulties which had caused delay were overcome mainly through the interest shown by the Press and the influence of the Reindeer Council of the United Kingdom, an advisory and research body which my wife Ethel Lindgren and I founded in 1949. The Reindeer Company Limited was formed to finance the project and was registered in Edinburgh. The main office of both bodies is in Cambridge.”

Read the full history of the Cairngorm herd and about the current herd here on the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd website