Wild Reindeer as an Indicator of Evenki Biocultural Systems

Evenk woman on the way to the sacred mountain, Southern Sakha-Yakutia, Russia in Spring 2006. Photo: Snowchange, 2015

Evenk woman on the way to the sacred mountain, Southern Sakha-Yakutia, Russia in Spring 2006. Photo: Snowchange, 2015

A new science paper co-authored with two Indigenous co-authors on the wild reindeer of Eastern Siberia is out today. Available here.

This paper reviews oral histories and established scientific materials regarding wild rein‐ deer (Rangifer tarandus spp.) in the Southern Sakha‐Yakutia, in the Neriungri district and surround‐ ing highlands, river valleys and taiga forest ecosystems. Wild reindeer is seen as an ecological and cultural keystone species through which environmental and social changes can be understood and interpreted.

Oral histories of Evenki regarding wild reindeer have been documented in the community of Iyengra between 2005 and 2020. During this 15‐year‐co‐researchership the Southern Sakha‐ Yakutian area has undergone rapid industrial development affecting the forest and aquatic ecosystems. The wild reindeer lost habitats and dwindles in numbers. We demonstrate that the loss of the wild reindeer is not only a loss of biodiversity, but also of cultural and linguistic diversity as well as food security.

Our interpretative and analytical frame is that of emplacement. Socio‐ecological systems have the potential and capacity to reconnect and re‐establish themselves in post‐extractive landscapes, if three main conditions are met. These conditions for successful emplacement include

(1) surviving natural core areas,

(2) links to cultural landscape knowledge and

(3) an agency to re‐ new endemic links.

 

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