20 december 2012

All of the Mother Reindeer


Professor Robert Weladji at work in the field in Kutuharju, in Northern Finland in October 2010.
Courtesy of Professor Weladji

It's that time of year, when reindeer come dashing into our awareness.  And Professor Robert Weladji has some food for thought on the care and management of reindeer poulations, particularly the mothers in the herd.

Robert Weladji, is Associate Professor of Animal Ecology, Department of Biology at Concordia University.  His specialty is large mammals, herbivores specifically, from elephants and rhinoceros’ in Africa to caribou, moose and sheep in northern environments.

His work began as a wildlife officer in his native Cameroon.  Then he continued his studies pursuing a master’s degree in Norway.   On returning to Cameroon he worked for a time with the World Wildlife Fund.  It was following this he returned to Norway and his growing love for research, doing a PhD in the Population Dynamics of large herbivores, and the reindeer population served his interests best.  His work has taken him to herds in Russia, Iceland, Sweden and Finland.  He’s developed a fondness for reindeer as he’s discovered they are an adaptable and very resilient species.

But Professor Weladji has discovered that hunting the mothers in the herd can have dire consequences for the offspring.  A fawn has the best chance of survival only if it gets to leave a full year with its mother.  This finding also applies the caribou, and deer and moose in Canada.

Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Professor Robert Weladji about his reaserch:
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