Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reindeer round-up

"Maliya Suo is more than 90 years old, but she can still skin a squirrel. In her prime, she could shoot a pheasant in flight. She was once the greatest reindeer herder in her tribe," reads a report by Jonathan Kaiman in the Los Angeles Times. After a lifetime as a nomad in China's Inner Mongolia region, Suo (1st image) has resisted the government's effort to resettle her on the outskirts of Genhe. She and 2,000 fellow members of her Ewenki tribe were forcibly relocated to the riverside city in 2003. Their hunting rifles were confiscated and they had to leave their herd of reindeer (example, 2nd image) behind. Like hundreds of thousands of other nomadic herders, the Ewenki themselves have been herded. The Chinese government claims that the resettlement provides these minorities with new opportunities and promotes diversity by bringing them into mainstream society, in addition to protecting the environment from overgrazing. But critics claim that the moves cleared the land for mining and left the resettled nomads impoverished and further marginalized. Stubborn Suo soon moved back to the woods, commenting, "The city doesn't smell good." Several family members joined her, knowing that she would be unable to live by herself. They live in 4 large tents in a patch of forest in a mountain range by a stream of their own. No buildings, money, cars, power lines, or cell phone service - just birch trees, frozen ponds, and the smell of wood smoke. They survive by hunting game (moose, bear, wild boar, and squirrel) and have been reunited with their collectively-owned herd of 400 reindeer. The reindeer provide them with milk, but these Ewenki also supplement their diet with garlic and cabbage from the city, which they buy with money they make selling reindeer antlers.

  • Rudolph and team fly with the help of their favorite food - magic mushrooms (video).
  • Dasher took 1st place in the first Reindeer Derby at Kempton Park Racecourse in Middlesex, Sunbury-on-Thames, England, and was awarded a trophy full of carrots (video).
  • Comet and Dancer escape from their trailer on the I-45 in Webster, Texas, on their way to visit schoolchildren (video).
  • Vixen and the others are very climate-friendly digesters when it comes to the release of methane gas (story).
  • Reindeer rented from Real Reindeer Ltd. have Scandinavian names, but are happy to use "stage names" when requested to stand in for Santa's team (video, gallery).
  • Blitzen and his kind have adapted to see and make sense of ultraviolet light (story).
  • In an undisclosed location, Prancer gets a little randy with a man's wife (video).
  • Cupid and Donder may be at risk after negative publicity generated by animal-rights activists in England causes a run on cans of reindeer pâté (story).

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