The nomad of the mountains – The European reindeer

The only remaining populations of the European wild mountain reindeer lives in 23 more or less separate mountain areas in Southern Norway. But now the wild reindeer have many challenges in their habitats, according to central members of  The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers, Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund. They are not alone to be worried.

About 500 years ago there were wild reindeers in most of Scandinavian mountains. And thousands of years ago the reindeer was the key resource in European culture. The reindeer are adapted a life in high altitudes and rough climate, and today you find these fascinating animals only in restricted areas in southern Norway. It is important for Norway and an international commitment to take care of the European wild reindeer, otherwise it might not be any wild reindeers left, lets say in 2030. Says the  The Norwegian wild reindeer foundation.

The problems of the reindeer is more or less the same as for many other wild animals today: It is increasingly more people, more roads, railways, cabins, power lines and other forms of urbanization and their habitat is reduced. It is not enough wilderness left.

These photos are not of the wild reindeer, but of the domesticated reindeers. I have actually never seen a wild reindeer yet, but the reindeers owned by the indigenous sami reindeer herders are more or less the same animal and they live the same way. That is roaming around in vast mountain areas as one of the most land-demanding species, and eating the same kind of plants and lichens. The only difference is that the wild reindeers are regulated by the authorities and through hunting, while the domesticated ones are regulated by their sami owners (but the reindeer herding is also regulated by the state). That means monitoring the yearly movements between pastures, keep looking for predators, collecting the herds to mark the calves in summer and slaughtering in autumn or winter.

There is sami reindeer herding in about 40 percent of Norway’s land area, that is all the way from Elgå in Hedmark and Trollheimen in Sør-Trøndelag and Møre and Romsdal and all the way to the russian border in Finnmark in the north. These photos are from southsami reindeer herding, most from the county of Nord-Trøndelag, some from Sør-Trøndelag.

I have more photos from reindeer herding and sami life in my web galleries. Here is a link to my gallery collection.

42 thoughts on “The nomad of the mountains – The European reindeer

  1. Lovely photos! Thank you for stopping by my blog today so I could find you. Our winters around Washington, DC, are not normally so snowy or cold as yours. But the season looks beautiful in your photos!


  2. There is a fascinating piece in the human planet (BBC) about a young girl in Norway who looks after a herd of reindeer. She has to coax them across a huge fjord ina boat along side them swimming which was both terrifying and fascinating to watch.


  3. Hi!! Thank you for your “like” notification on my blog!
    Wow!!! You’re so lucky! I really would like to see a Reindeer!!
    Beautiful pictures!


  4. Thank you for ‘liking’ my ‘More through the window’ post and for introducing me to your fascinating site. The information is interesting and the photos are superb.


  5. What a beautiful tribute! I have only been to Alaska a few times, but I have a deep appreciation for wildlife. Have you read Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac? You might really enjoy it. . . he talks about a “land ethic” and the importance of conservation–not just game animals, but predators and the entire biotic environment as well.
    I’m going to enjoy checking in to see your photographs! I have worked on my photography for many years, but have to teach History for a living 🙂
    Thanks for liking my post. I plan to follow yours.


    1. Thanks! About the size of the herds; they were much smaller i the past. That is from 50 years ago and back. Becausew then the sami people were also nomads, like their animals. Living in the mountains with the herds, and following them all the year around. These days even the sami people have house, car and snowmobile, and needs big herds to pay the costs of a modern way of living because the price of the reindeer meat (their income) is not that high. But they still work (and live parttime) in the mountains..


  6. I love Your photos. Norwegian reindeers have magnificent horns. In 2006 when we visited Nordkapp by our car, then reindeers were “cooling” in tunnels. That was experience, because they did not give way or car. 🙂


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