(Vatican Radio) The Christmas reindeer is universally associated with Santa Claus
riding in from the far North to present gifts to children on Christmas day. Yes,
we are all familar with the traditional image of Santa's eight reindeers that magically
pull his sleigh through the sky.
Reindeers in fact were ancient domestic animals
as witnessed by prehistoric rock paintings and by ancient artefacts made with parts
of the animal.
Through the centuries, reindeer have become a beloved symbol
But all is not well this year for reindeers as reports show that
an iconic reindeer herd, once the largest in the world, has shrunk to a fraction of
its former size.
A Canadian governement survey shows that the country's George
River Herd, once numbered over 8 thousand reindeers, now only counts 27 and a half
This dramatic decline has left local indigenous people fearful for
Survival International, an organization working for tribal peoples'
rights worldwide has issued a reprort explaining that one of the major factors of
the reindeers decline, is continued mining and mineral exploration.
Mazower, Survival’s Head of Media and Advocacy, told Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni
that the reindeer, known as caribou in North America, are central to the lives and
culture of many indigenous people in the sub-Arctic. Their falling numbers have left
local indigenous people fearful for their very existance...
explains that recently an industrial giant in the mineral sector has announced that
it wants to build a road through the heart of the reindeer's calving grounds.
says that Canada's promotion of industrial projects on its land has destroyed large
tracts of the reindeer's grazing rounds, and this disrupts their migratory routes.
also says that some scientists are putting the blame on indigenous hunting practices
for the herd's decline. However the Innu, the tribe in question, has co-existed with
the caribou for thousands of years.
It is proven in fact, that indigenous peoples
are the world's best conservationists.
For more information on this story and
on the work of Survival Internatioinal: