Rain on snow – how do people and reindeer learn to survive?

This winter and spring we hear again disastrous news from sudden temperature rises and falls, leading to thick ice-crusts on reindeer pastures that block reindeer’s access to their pastures. While the most famous of these events happened in 2014 in the Centre of the Yamal Peninsula, West Siberia, the phenomenon is known probably to reindeer herders all over the Arctic, and several of our colleagues have extensively published on this. In Yamal, however, this does not endanger reindeer herding as a livelihood altogether. The scale in the world’s number one reindeer herding region is different from more marginal regions, which also have less possibilities to help with emergency measures in comparison to the Yamal government that is one of Russia’s richest financially. The winter/spring 2021 icing event in northernmost Yamal raises to me a new question on how we study the movement of adaptation-knowledge between wild animals, domestic animals and humans. Read below how.

Continue reading “Rain on snow – how do people and reindeer learn to survive?”

Anthrax outbreak on Yamal PENINSULA, not Tarko Sale PUROVSKI Yamal Okrug!

The Siberian Times and other english language sites report about the recent anthrax outbreak among reindeer in West Siberia in a slight geographical confusion . Ignore the maps in this Siberian times article. We are actually witnessing this on the YAMAL PENINSULA close to the FAKTORIYA (trading post) Tarko Sale, which is close to the Yaro To lake around 300 km Northeast of the regional capital Salekhard.

Yamal_TarkoSale_Faktoria_GV
Base map from yandex maps. Tarko Sale trading post (Faktoriya) on the Yamal Peninsula

This is not to be confused with the other (bigger) Tarko Sale, administrative centre of the Purovski District in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The proper location and latest news about this can be found here for example.
I have myself moved together with private herders around the Yaro To lake. The location is an important passway for many reindeer nomads, used in all seasons: The nomads with the furthest longest migration routes use it in early May, just before calving time, moving up North in spring towards their summer pastures. The second “wave” of herders use this location as a summer site, where they group with several households uniting many small herds into a big one for withstanding mosquito harrassment. People stay close to the Yaro To lake for fishing there in summer. In autumn the site is again used as a passway for herders returning from their summer pastures south heading towards the slaughtering sites in the south of the Yamal Peninsula. In winter, some private herders use the site and get supplies from the trading post in Tarko Sale. If you are interested in more detail on these migration routes and nomadic seasonality, you can have a look at chapter 3 of this book, or a part of this chapter.
This shows that the place is very intensively used. Due to the high mobility of herders using this site, utmost care has to be taken for preventing of anthrax being spread all over the Yamal Peninsula.