A free-ranging herd of mountain reindeer is thriving at the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands
A SHAGGY REINDEER crunching through freshly fallen snow is not a sight you would expect to see while walking through the British countryside. But visit the Cairngorms National Park and this is exactly what you might encounter. This mountainous stretch of land in the eastern Highlands became home to Britain’s only free-ranging herd in 1952 when Mikel Utsi and his wife Dr Ethel Lindgren brought eight Swedish mountain reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) here. Now 150-strong, the herd grazes on more than 10,000 acres of mountainside where visitors to the park can join trips to see them in situ. A number of evolutionary enhancements make them perfect for the extreme environment, including fur that traps air, providing perfect insulation, and hair-covered hooves, which give traction in icy conditions. Find out more at cairngormreindeer.co.uk.