New Delhi: The deadly disease of anthrax has taken over the reindeer in Russia and it seems that the country has no choice but to cull the reindeer population.
A governor in Russia's far north has said the reindeer population will be reduced by 100,000, however, scientists have said twice as many need to be culled, as per a report in The Guardian.
The report mentioned that reindeer herding is an important industry and livelihood for indigenous peoples in the Yamal-Nenets region. Its governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, told state news agency RIA Novosti that about 100,000 reindeer would be culled this winter because overpopulation was straining a limited food supply and increasing the risk of anthrax infection.
This is the first anthrax outbreak in Yamal-Nenets since 1941. In July and August this year, the disease claimed the lives of a 12-year-old boy and more than 2,500 reindeer.
Scientists and officials blamed the awakening of the “zombie infection” on abnormally hot temperatures caused by global climate change. Thawing of the permafrost soil can release the frozen bacteria, The Guardian reported.
Regional authorities will buy the reindeer to be culled and process the meat, Kobylkin said. The Guardian also quoted Vladimir Bogdanov, director of the Urals Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, saying that, “At least 200,000 reindeer need to be culled. If steps aren’t taken, there will be a mass die-off in the near future. The animals won’t hold out against lack of fodder and various diseases.”
However, reducing the reindeer population is a huge risk, since that is how many indigenous people earn a living.