November 16, 2016 • Philip Burgess
Dead Reindeer, death due to extreme climate event. Photo: Roma Serotetto
From the press release announcing a new paper entitled ‘Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia’ published today in the journal, Biology Letters. You can read the article in full here.
Scientists have interviewed nomadic reindeer herders in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of West Siberia, the world’s most productive reindeer herding region, to look at how global warming is affecting their way of life. While rain-on-snow generally does not cause problems in spring, it can be catastrophic for reindeer in the autumn when rain turns to an ice crust as normal freezing temperatures return. This crust, often several centimetres thick,
prevents the reindeer from feeding on fodder beneath the snow throughout the winter
months. Two extreme weather events in 2006 and 2013 caused mass starvation among the
reindeer herds, and researchers for the first time have linked these extreme weather events
on the coastal mainland in northwest Russia with sea ice loss in the adjoining Barents and
The most recent rain-on-snow event of November 2013 resulted in 61 000 reindeer deaths,
about 22% out of 275 000 reindeer on the Yamal Peninsula, says the paper, which warns
that these events seem to be increasing in severity.
November 12, 2016 • Philip Burgess
The ICR and WRH team have been in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug for the whole week and yesterday, attended an international seminar on the outbreak of anthrax on the Yamal Peninsula this summer. The anthrax outbreak was an event that captured global headlines and aroused significant concern amongst herders and their advocates, as significant reindeer culls have been suggested, and a desire to reduce the number of active herders has also touted. Considerable unease and uncertainty within the livelihood has arisen as a result.
The seminar was a two day event and was opened by the Yamal Governor Dmitry Kobylkin and included presentations by multiple presenters from Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, UK, Germany, Canada and the US on various topics including anthrax outbreaks, pastures, reindeer health, education,
From the ICR/WRH team, presentations were made by Svein Mathiesen (“Social- ecological resilience of reindeer husbandry in times of Arctic change”), Johan Mathis Turi (“The role of traditional knowledge and management in the future”) and ICR board member Roza Laptander from the Arctic Centre, Finland, (“Turbulent periods in the history of Yamal reindeer husbandry in stories of tundra dwellers”)
November 8, 2016 • Philip Burgess
On Tuesday, November 8, as part of a week long series of reindeer related activities in Salekhard, in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, there will be an EALLU seminar held at the Yamal Polar Agroeconomic College, entitled ‘Traditional Knowledge and Food Culture of Indigenous Peoples of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: Towards a Safe and Sustainable Future. There will be presentations by Nenets and Sami researchers, experts, practitioners and a number of presentations by students of the college on food safety (Traditional Nenets foods feature a lot of raw meat and blood) and that traditional foods are an ‘anti stress diet’, speaking to the fact that traditional foods are not just about protein, but encompass a range of cultural, economic, social, spiritual and physical properties and functions. Presenters include ICR Director Anders Oskal, WRH Executive Chair Mikhail Pogodaev, Inger Anita Smuk.
July 1, 2016 • Philip Burgess
Nechei A. Serotetto, a young Nenets student who took the remarkable step of travelling to Kautokeino in the heart of the Sami reindeer herding area, living there for a year, learning Sami language and applying her acquired knowledge on Nenets and Sami reindeer herding slaughtering techniques and terminology has received top marks for her completed final year paper. Serotetto’s work was for her final paper in teacher education at the Institute of the North, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia. This is a valuable contribution as Nenets slaughtering terminology is highly specific and sometimes ‘secret’ her work is a valuable addition to the broader knowledge and awareness of traditional knowledge of herding peoples. It is worth noting that no-one has ever studied the traditional Nenets way of slaughtering reindeer, making her work groundbreaking, particularly when compared to the more studied Sami practices of slaughter, which she studied and participated in, during her stay in Kautokeino.
Serotetto grew up in a nomadic reindeer herding family in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the largest single area of reindeer herding in the world where she was immersed in the nomadic herding life of her family and to where she is returning.
January 23, 2014 • Svetlana Avelova
First Deputy Director of the Department for the indigenous peoples of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Eduard Yaungad commented difficult situation in Yamal and Priuralsky districts.
He explained that kind of situation occurres periodically on the Yamal Peninsula, for example, similar situation was observed fifteen years ago and it was in general connected with weather conditions.