Why reindeer migrate?

In spring the Lapps leave behind the woodlands of the south where they spend the winter and set out for the pastures in the northern mountains. The Lapps move in small family groups, leading their herd of reindeer along established tracks which usually follow the courses of river. The rivers are still frozen and the Lapps us them as safe roads for their sledges, laden with provisions. The reindeer are used to following the same route and move along slowly, feeding as they travel.

Half-way through the journey, when spring breaks, the Lapps pitch their tents for a period lasting several weeks. It is at this time that the baby reindeer are born and the tribe has to wait until they are able to walk by themselves. The young reindeer do not take long to learn how to trot about and the herd moves on once more. The destination is the far north where the tundra, the ‘cold desert’ of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, ends and the Arctic Ocean begins. The reindeer herd spends the short summer on the grassy shores and on the islets along the coast before travelling south once more.

Lapps consume large quantities of reindeer milk and use it to make delicious cheese. When the icy north wind blows and the family is gathered together in the tent the mother prepares a hot drink by dissolving chunks of reindeer cheese in hot water. This drink provides a great deal of energy and warmth.

Lapps have hunted reindeer since the earliest times and have kept small numbers, but breeding them in large herds is comparatively recent.


Picture Credit : Google