DEC 25, 2014 12:00 AM PST

Reindeer Numbers Decline In China

Around the world, reindeer numbers are dwindling and scientists fear the species could be in danger. While tales of flying reindeer are mostly the stuff of fairy tales and holiday movies, nonflying reindeer are very real and an important part of many ecosystems in the northern part of the globe.

Reindeer herds can currently be found in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Mongolia and China, and populations across the board are declining. In a new study, researchers from Renmin University in Beijing focused on the reindeer population in China, which has declined about 28 percent since the 1970s. Reindeer are believed to have migrated to China from Siberia, along with the Ewenki tribe who did not hunt them and provided the herd with basic a basic food supply.

The researchers determined how many reindeer were left in China (about 770) by interviewing the Ewenki herders and looking through old population records. The Ewenki often tie colored ribbons around the reindeer's necks to help differentiate the animals.

The researchers pointed to several reasons reindeer populations are decreasing, but the number one cause they found was inbreeding. Reindeer are split up into small, shrinking groups and opportunities to breed are limited. Without more genetic variation, the populations will eventually collapse.

Further, more and more of the reindeer's historic caretakers are leaving the herds behind. Young Ewenki men have trouble adjusting to the isolation of the reindeer's natural habitat. As of 2012, there were only 33 reindeer herders left in China. The lack of herders means reindeer will get lost from the herd or fall victim to poachers.

Reindeer are currently listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's threatened species list under the "least concern" category. But the researchers say this classification, which is based on a 2008 survey of the population, needs updating.

Strengthening the declining population could also boost the health of ecosystems and enhance local economies, the researchers said.
The findings were published in the December issue of the Journal for Nature Conservation.
About the Author
English
I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
APR 18, 2022
Microbiology
Earth's Oldest Life Forms May be Over 4 Billion Years Old!
APR 18, 2022
Earth's Oldest Life Forms May be Over 4 Billion Years Old!
We've learned a lot about life that came before us by studying fossils. The ancestry and evolution of ancient microbial ...
APR 22, 2022
Plants & Animals
Microbes Could Change How Methane Gas in Landfills is Produced
APR 22, 2022
Microbes Could Change How Methane Gas in Landfills is Produced
Every Earth Day, we take time to pause, think, and reflect on what we’re doing to save and preserve the natural wo ...
MAY 03, 2022
Plants & Animals
Climate Change Could Cause the Next Pandemic
MAY 03, 2022
Climate Change Could Cause the Next Pandemic
Climate change has been a burning topic in recent years. Numerous United Nation reports highlight the dangers of climate ...
MAY 19, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Vaccine for Deadly Mosquito-borne Virus Shows Promising Trial Results
MAY 19, 2022
Vaccine for Deadly Mosquito-borne Virus Shows Promising Trial Results
Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), Western equine encephalitis (WEEV), Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEEV) are ...
JUN 02, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Choosing the right soil for cannabis grows
JUN 02, 2022
Choosing the right soil for cannabis grows
Soil plays a huge role in growing high quality cannabis. Here's what to look for.
JUN 12, 2022
Plants & Animals
Vegan Diet Rich in Legumes Helps with Weight Loss
JUN 12, 2022
Vegan Diet Rich in Legumes Helps with Weight Loss
New research conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine suggests that a vegan diet offers a range of ...
Loading Comments...