Reindeer Herders Latest Casualties To Fast-Changing Arctic Climate
Fewer and fewer Samis live the nomadic life these days. Photo courtesy wiki commons
Reindeer herding is no piece-of-cake job - the hours are long and the weather mostly crummy. But at least ten percent of the indigenous Sami people (also called Lapplanders, or Lapps) in Europe's far north have herding as their traditional occupation. Though they've over time been encroached upon by different assimilation pressures and have been shifting to stationary reindeer farming over nomadic herding, a rapidly-warming Arctic climate is the latest serious threat to their livelihood.
Traditionally Sami reindeer herders traveled over ice roads - broad hooves mean the herd can forage for food below the snow. But changing climate over the last decade means winters can bring unstable ice and more rain, and temperature changes that make snow thaw and freeze to thin ice sheets that reindeer hooves can't penetrate.
"Climate change is threatening our economy as reindeer herders," herder Olav Mathis-Eira told The Independent. "Because this is part of our traditional way of life, if the economy goes, probably the entire Sami culture would go with it."