People of the deer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 April, 2012, 12:00am


In the far north of Russia lives a clan of reindeer herders called the Nenets. Their home is the Siberian tundra - a cold, windy landscape where trees cannot grow. The Nenets have a nomadic lifestyle, moving their vast herds of animals over thousands of kilometres.

In winter, temperatures can fall to minus 50 degrees Celsius. Life is hard but whole families spend their lives following the herd. They still wear traditional clothing made of deer skin, sewn together by the women. That's how they keep themselves warm enough to spend a winter's night outside with their animals.

Reindeer meat is their primary food. The animals' antlers fetch a good price in China, where they are used for traditional medicine.

A legend says that the Nenets made an agreement with the deer. They would walk with them on their long treks and protect them from predators like wolves. In return, the deer would give the people life.