Reindeer, South Georgia
Pictures Ulf Gustafsson, 2010 - 2011

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Reindeer, South Georgia

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Reindeer were first introduced to South Georgia in 1909 by Carl Anton Larsen, the man who first started whaling from the island. They were introduced in order to provide fresh meat for the whalers without needing to be farmed. They were introduced on three occasions between 1909 and 1925 in two separate areas of the island.

Until 1980, they were regularly hunted and their numbers kept in check, there have been anecdotal reports of them also being hunted by the resident small garrison of British Forces after 1980.

In 2010, the decision was taken to remove the reindeer from South Georgia as they are a non-native species and had significant effects on the plant growth and soil levels on large areas of the island. In turn, these affected native nesting birds. The reindeer were culled between 2013 and 2014 and there are now none left on South Georgia.

When I was in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey from 1985-1987, the pemmican sledging rations we were supplied with came from the reindeer herd on South Georgia.


Photo; copyright Ulf Gustafsson