Poached reindeer carcasses float in the Khatanga River in the far north of Siberia. Photo: Sergey Burlaku / The Siberian Times

7 February 2017 (The Siberian Times) – A small motorboat stalks a herd of reindeer as they cross the Khatanga River in the far north of Siberia. In a barbaric act, poachers use axes and cleavers to cut the antlers from the helpless animals as they swim in the cold Arctic waters.

Often, the frontal bone of the animal is yanked off too, and the highly productive male creatures die in or close to the river. Evidence of this cruelty litters the river here in the north of Krasnoyarsk region.

Deeply disturbing pictures here show how the crossing of the Khatanga and its tributaries is used by poachers to shoot reindeer. Raids by the employees of the Taimyr Nature Reserve in summer reveal the corpses of the deer dumped along the river. 

Many were shot in the head from boats while they were crossing the rivers, on a seasonal migration from Evenkia to the Taimyr peninsula. 

Another tactic used by poachers on snowmobiles is to chase the reindeer some 10 kilometres towards the river. Pregnant females carrying 3 or 4 kilogram embryos often suffer miscarriages. Veterinarians have highlighted 'mass abortion'. […]

Expert Dr Leonid Kolpashchikov, head of the scientific department of Taimyr Nature Reserve, warned: 'The small number of rangers is not able to control the hunting of wild reindeer, which is carried out with violations to the timing, amount, and methods. Poaching is 'out of control' from the Yamal peninsula to Yakutia, he said.

He links this process to a catastrophic fall in the reindeer population in Taimyr from 1 million in 2000 - the largest wild herd in the world, accounting for 24 per cent of all wild animals - to a projected possible low of 150,000 in 2020.

'Now we estimate the population as 400,000 to 500,000,' he said. Other experts put the current population slightly higher at 600,000, but no-one denies the stark decline, which is often blamed mainly on climate change.  [more]

How poaching is 'killing off' the world's largest reindeer herd on Taimyr Peninsula

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