KAUTOKEINO (VG) It’s not normal for a reindeer to be fenced, says Aslak Mathis Turi. He has no choice. Across Troms and Finnmark, reindeer herding Sami asks for help in crises.
Nina Helen Gama (photo and video)
Reindeer kicks their hooves in the snow and searches for food in the enclosure outside Kautukino. As soon as the sound of the snowmobile reaches them, they start running towards it.
The scooter pulls a yellow bag with a focus, and small brown pearls are scattered in the track. A herd of reindeer grazes together and eats eagerly.
One deer was left lying on the ground. Smells a little in the air, but lets the food and the herd pass.
There are some reindeer that won’t absorb focus. Anders Isak A. Gaup explains that other people eat a lot if they aren’t careful.
Kick in a pile of focus to spread it out, so the reindeer don’t get too much focus too quickly.
– It’s not the way it should be, but it’s an emergency solution, says Gaup.
Herding crisis for more than 130,000 reindeer
The winter pastures in Troms and Finnmark have now been declared a crisis, for nearly 165,000 reindeer in the area.
The reason is temperate climates with changing temperatures. The snow first melted, then froze into a layer of ice. Reindeer are unable to make their way through the ice, to the food on the ground.
– We can see him already at the beginning of November. We hoped things would get better, but then things got worse and worse, says Matisse Toure wires.
More snow settled on the ice. Now it is layer upon layer of ice and snow.
Tori was among the first to sound the alarm. At first, they transferred concentrates to reindeer in winter pastures.
Each bag weighs 800 kg, and was transported on a snowmobile to winter pastures 100 kilometers from her home in Kautokeno.
– We used to feed the reindeer every day, and then too. However, the animals were wandering in search of pasture. There were many of us who had to tend them around the clock, make rounds on snowmobiles, to keep the flocks together. Tori says.
– We took it in turns, but it was very appalling.
1 of 3Photo: Naina Helén Jåma / VG
A week ago, the herd was placed in a barn closer to the house, to facilitate the transfer of concentrates to them.
Now, nine Siida arrows have joined forces to move their flocks in the same enclosure near the road.
– It is not normal to be fenced off. But that makes it easier for us, because we don’t have to push ourselves to die, which is akin to moving fodder, says Torey.
However, it is not an easy choice, because reindeer do not thrive either.
– It is completely unnatural for a reindeer to be fenced off. We’ve already lost some reindeer, Tori says.
When VG meets Turi, he just had to slaughter an emergency animal, which became ill after eating concentrate. It is the smallest reindeer that seems to endure the worst.
The United Nations wants to strengthen the role of indigenous peoples
Although the global temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees, it is rising faster the further north you go. Arctic temperature Increases two to three times faster from the rest of the world.
The North Pole is now considered one Particularly at risk area to climate change.
Indigenous peoples whose livelihoods are closely linked to nature will be particularly vulnerable to changing their livelihoods. They have their own rights, according to the UN Climate Committee, and should be allowed to participate in all important decisions about climate adaptation.
We are pleased that the report focuses on the importance of indigenous peoples and local knowledge to make good change, says climate advisor Oyvind Kristoffersen at the Norwegian Environment Agency.
It is a center in Norway for the United Nations Climate Committee, IPCC. The report focuses on the fact that indigenous peoples are at risk of losing their cultural identity when nature is threatened.
For us, Arctic issues are also important, and there are many indigenous peoples living in the Arctic, says Kristofferson.
On In Svalbard, the school erected a fence To protect students from polar bears. Melting ice causes the polar bear to change its behaviour.
afraid of the future
Sami, who is herding reindeer, does not know the scale of the consequences.
They’ve had bad years before, they explain, but not so long and not as frequently as now.
This is the second winter they have to use the concentrates for extended periods. The first was in 2020.
– It was a very difficult and demanding time, and it was very critical. We were afraid that the reindeer would die, and we had no choice but to start feeding. This was the first time we gave them focus, says El Marja Ira.
Ayra is a musician and director, she has her own reindeer herd. Her whole family had to intervene to get over the crisis, and Ira decided to make a documentary about her.
– He noticed when watching the movie that we hardly talked in the family. Ira says, I think seriousness weighed on us.
Reindeer in winter pastures began to behave differently. They went together in small groups and fled in search of better pastures.
The family had to ride a motorcycle around the clock to gather the herd. However, many reindeer herds were lost, and as many calves were not born as usual.
– It scares me. Ira says, I’m afraid reindeer husbandry will disappear.
Sees the pastoral crisis and the climate in context
This winter could be even worse, according to Nota Maria Pinta of Troms and Finnmark’s Country Manager. Because the crisis happened about two months before the season compared to 2020.
– It would be worse if it meant that the crisis would last longer. Binta says it is a question of how long the reindeer have to go without getting enough food.
Her office has received more than 50 emergency preparedness requests, which are currently being processed.
– We will have the full picture of the situation in a week, says Pentha.
The state official places the crisis in the context of climate change, as the weather becomes warmer and more unstable.
– We see that the weather changes a lot. Research shows that the effect of climate change is that the temperature varies a lot. There will be more precipitation, and in the north it will mean more snow and more rain, says Pentha.
When the temperature changes, the ice will melt and freeze again.
Snow, ice and rain are the factors that determine whether a reindeer gets to eat or not, says Penta.
– I’m afraid there is no future in this. We are not interested in feeding the reindeer. Tori says it’s not like cattle.
As long as the flock of Siida’s nine arrows are in the box, they need to focus for more than 43,000 crowns a day, according to their calculations.
The support they receive does not fully cover one kilogram of concentrate per day, but as long as the reindeer is in a container, they need approximately 2.3 kilograms.
If they have to feed for three months until spring comes, it could cost two to three million kronor more than they receive in support.
– That’s when you realize how much value lies in our pastures, says Torey.
It could mean bankruptcy, Toure fears, but at the same time he says giving up is not an option.
I don’t call it a job, it’s a lifestyle. At the same time, I wonder if there is any future in it. Whether it is appropriate to teach children to raise reindeer, if they can have a simpler life elsewhere.
1 of 6Photo: Naina Helén Jåma / VG
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