New Delhi/ 26 December 2016. Reindeer—which are called caribou in North America—play an important role in Christmas folklore. But the deer is more than mere myth.
In the Arctic, indigenous peoples such as the Nenets rely on reindeer for food, transportation, and clothing year-round. Wild reindeer—which live in Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and Canada—also benefit their ecosystems. For instance, they serve as prey for polar bears and wolves.
Here are some glimpses.
Reindeer pull Inuit mushers across Alaska's snowy terrain.
A herd of reindeer travel through a snow-covered Siberian valley in the 1970s. Reindeer in Siberia travel north each spring and return to their home range each fall in one of the world's biggest large-animal migrations.
Reindeer pulling a Sami herder on a sleigh near Lovozero, Russia.
A reindeer relaxes outside the tipi homes of nomadic Tsaatan herders in Mongolia. The Tsaatan, also known as the Dukha, are an ancient people of Turkic descent who live in the remote forests of northwestern Mongolia.
Two Peary caribous flee through the snow on Canada's Ellesmere Island. (National Geographic)