Breathtaking Photos of Reindeer Herders Losing Their Livelihoods

Russian Nenet Reindeer Herder and Dog Chasing Photo

Image via: Picturing Climate Change project

As part of a project to document climate change on cultures in nine different parts of the world, the NOOR photo agency sent photojournalists out to see what they could find and the results are some beautifully, tragic shots. One collection in Picturing Climate Change, about reindeer herders in Russia shows a culture that lives with possibly one of the lightest carbon footprints on the planet, and yet their way of life is rapidly deteriorating. The russian herders, as the slideshow graphically depicts, typically migrate 100 miles a year, living off of fish and reindeer as they do in some of the most remote and harshest climates on the planet. 1,250 miles north of Russia, the Nenet people (pop: 42,000) have herded reindeer with the changing of the seasons. Now their migrations are delayed by months because landscapes are too warm and once frozen water bodies are no longer frozen and also means less pasture for the reindeer to feed on before spring. The Nenet make tents and clothing and meals out of reindeer, and are completely dependent on them for survival.

Russian Nenet Woman and Baby in Tent Photo

Image via: Picturing Climate Change project

The frozen permafrost that they call home is also home to huge reserves of natural gas. In the last few years, more and more attention has come to this area and many times natural gas workers outnumber Nenet. As there is more interest in extracting the natural gas, some worry that all of the drilling will rapidly disrupt this already delicate area. Not to mention what will happen as more methane is released as the permafrost continues to melt.

The NOOR photo agency chose to send 9 photographers around the world to photograph and document specific changes thanks to climate change. All of the images show people and species under attack, living on the fringes and barely hanging on. It is hard to watch slideshow after slideshow and not come away affected.

Other campaigns covered under this project include: Poland's dependence on coal; war refugees in East Africa; Greenlands shrinking ice affecting natives; Brazil's rainforest; Canada's pine beetles; India's coal fires; Maldive's rising oceans; and Canada's oil sands.

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