Stockholm – According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, more than three hundred wild reindeer, including seventy youngsters, were killed after being struck by lightning.
The harrowing images show the hundreds of carcasses distributed all along the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, in central Norway.
Kjartan Knutsen, a spokesman for the Agency, claimed that, while it is not uncommon for Norwegian wildlife to be stricken by lightning, the huge amount of deaths at the same time was indeed unusual.
Knutsen even said he had never heard about that many animals dying during his whole career. One explanation is that wild reindeer tend to find each other during bad weather and then stay together until the storm pass.
The Agency is investigating whether it was one big lighting strike or several. They are also discussing what to do with the carcasses. Generally, they would simply let “nature take its course”, but given the number of dead animals they may make an exception.
The reindeer were migrating across the Hardangervidda plateau, as the seasons change. Something they do every year.
The Hardangervidda National Park
The Hardangervidda National Park is Norway’s largest national park. It extends across three thousand five hundred square kilometers and crossed the Hardangervidda mountain plateau.
The national park, designated as such in the eighties, is extremely ancient, a testimony from the Ice Ages, with bedrocks of the Precambrian and Cambro-Silurian ages.
Right now, it is a popular place for tourists to visit. And not only for foreigners but also for Norweigan themselves, who go for a climb, a hike, for skiing or fishing.
The park is also famous because of its vast herds of wild reindeer, the largest in the world, composed of almost ten thousand animals.
The park’s wild reindeers
Ages ago, herds of reindeer roamed all over Europe. It was not until the man came, along with his hunting and domestication and climate change that the reindeer population began to crumble.
They are now extinct in almost all Europe, and only in the Hardangervidda National Park is where they have enough protection and space to make their annual pilgrimage of the change of seasons.
According to the official website of the park, the reindeer is “the most notable animal on the mountain plateau”, since it’s perfectly adapted to the barren geography and the long, harsh winters.
However, the park allows some to hunt reindeer if they wish. In the past couple of years, this has been limited to the Vinje area of the plateau, and in Tinn, where most of the hunters are locals.
The country wants to apply for a nomination as a World Heritage Site for areas with traditional reindeer hunting, such as the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, the Reinheimen National Park and the Rondane National Park in Southern Norway.
In these parts of the country, the hunters have kept the same traditions from the Stone Age.
The dwarf reindeer
Norway also has its own subspecies of wild reindeer, the Svalbard reindeer.
This tiny animal is endemic from the Svalbard island and suffers from insular dwarfism, a phenomenon in which species evolve to be smaller than their counterparts in the mainlands.
The reindeer has a length between 150 and 160 cm and weighs around 65 to 70 kg,
Source: Washington Post