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Scientists determine wild reindeer numbers with support from Vostsibneftegaz

24 March 2023

With grant support from the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company (Rosneft’s oil and gas producing asset), scientists at the Siberian Federal University have studied and calculated the population size of wild forest reindeer in Evenkia, Krasnoyarsk Territory. These mammals have not been counted for more than 20 years. The experts estimate that there are currently around 77,000 of them.

Reindeer in the northern territories of Siberia are the main source of subsistence for the households of the indigenous peoples of the North. In the face of increasing pressure on ecosystems, the study and monitoring of these valuable animals is becoming increasingly urgent.

The researchers have mapped the distribution of forest reindeer in Evenkia. Most of the animals are concentrated in the area between the Podkamennaya Tunguska and Nizhnyaya Tunguska rivers. The species has remained stable in its numbers for the last 20 years in the western part of Evenkia, in the foothills of the Putorana Plateau. Large groups of the animals are mainly found in hardly accessible areas, as well as on heavily marshy and foothill sites. These habitats are attractive to reindeer not only because there are no anthropogenic pressures, but also because of the rich supplies of reindeer moss and other fodder. The availability of lichens changes throughout the year, causing animals to migrate in search of food. The year 2022 recorded the biggest deviation of wild reindeer from normal migration flows—they shifted 180-220 km in one season.

Due to the specific distribution of reindeer groups over a large area, the researchers applied a set of versatile methods, including ground-based stationary surveys, aerial surveys, UAV surveys, route surveys and meteorological observations, as well as biological sampling.

Note for Editors:

Vostsibneftegaz operates in the Evenki municipal district, Krasnoyarsk Territory of Russia, at the Yurubcheno-Tokhomskoye field.

Evenkia is an area inhabited by indigenous peoples of the North—the Evenks, Keto, Yakuts, Dolgans and Evens. More than half of Evenkia’s indigenous population are engaged in hunting, fishing and reindeer herding in the Baikitsky district, including the Yurubcheno-Tokhomskoye field. For this reason, the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company pays particular attention to issues of social partnership with the indigenous peoples living on this land.

The Evenki Reindeer project was launched in 2014 with the support of the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company. Since then, scientists of SibFU have conducted ground-based and aerial surveys of the animals’ range in Evenkia and Taimyr, analysed the results, and collected information from the local population. Using satellite collars, the researchers were able, for the first time, to track the full annual migration cycle of tundra wild reindeer. Seasonal patterns of the animal migrations were revealed; the nature of their movements was studied depending on weather conditions and other environmental factors.

The project has practical significance for the Evenki and Taimyr districts of Krasnoyarsk Territory, as wild reindeer form the basis of their ecosystem.

Information Division
March 24, 2023

Keywords: Environmental news 2023