The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is vast –covering over 3 million km2, making up 1/5 of the Russia Federation, larger than France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, England, Finland and Austria combined. More than a half of the territory of the Sakha Republic is North of the Arctic circle. A region of this size is obviously made up of a variety of different bioregions from Arctic and forest tundra, to taiga andmountain-taiga. Only the middle part of theRepublic no longer has reindeer husbandry.The region is as sparsely populated as it is vast, with just under a million inhabitants of whom 6% are considered to be indigenous peoples. Five distinct peoples herd reindeerhere, namely Even, Evenk, Chukchi, Yukagir and Dolgan. Reindeer husbandry is practiced in 23 uluses (regions) and covers a territory of 2,5million km2 which is about 83% of the total area of the Republic.
Eveny reindeer husbandry is mostly practiced in the North-East of Sakha,but is also present in the North-West and South of the Republic. In the North West, reindeer husbandry is practiced by Dolgans and some Yakuts. In the North East, Yukagir and Chukchi herd reindeer, though they are numerically few. In the Southern mountain taiga regions, Evenki predominate. In 2008, the number of reindeer in the Republic was just over 180,000 with the largest number (20,245) being in the Tomponsky region, the site of the first EALÁT Information workshop in Sakha. In the Aldan region the number of reindeer in 2008 was 11,555. In the Republic, there are currently176 reindeer herding brigades employing 2,055 people, including brigadiers, reindeer herders,veterinarian reindeer herders and tent workers.
There are basically three types of reindeerhusbandry in Sakha (Yakutia) – tundra, mountain-taiga (Even) and taiga reindeer husbandry(Evenk). Taiga reindeer husbandry differs fromtundra reindeer husbandry in terms of different nature conditions, shorter migrations (if at all),smaller herds and the use of reindeer primarily for transportation, among other things. After the collapse of the Soviet Union andthe transition to market economy, reindeer husbandry in Sakha (Yakutia) was hit especiallyhard. Large reductions in domesticated reindeer were experienced – in the 1990’s alone, numbers were reduced by 2.5 times. With a curtailment in breeding work, a rapid increase of predator populations as controls were halted, a weakened economy and a reduction of subsidies, these were difficult times for reindeer herders and their families and there was areduced recruitment to the livelihood. A moratorium on the slaughtering of reindeer wasintroduced which has only recently been lifted.