Moun­tain rein­deer

Country Living (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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