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When reindeer have nowhere to run

Friday, March 17, 2017 8:49
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(Before It's News)

For hundreds of years the Khanty people of Western
Siberia have lived in harmony with nature. But as the oil industry
seizes more and more of their land, their animals perish in oil
spills and reindeer herders are losing their last pastures.

"Oil company road construction on Sopochin family ancestral land, Western Siberia, Russia, 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134542_238949.jpg"
alt=
"Oil company road construction on Sopochin family ancestral land, Western Siberia, Russia, 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Members
of The Sopochin family, 3 Feb, 2017.

The Sopochin are a large family of Khanty people. Born
and raised on ancestral lands in the forest tundra, they are among
those who still preserve their Indigenous culture and way of life
in the industry-dominated modern world.

"Reindeer herder and his daughter, Sopochin family, Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134547_238939.jpg"
alt=
"Reindeer herder and his daughter, Sopochin family, Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Reindeer
herder with his daughter, 3 Feb, 2017.

Their ancestral land stretches far across the horizon:
16 families of reindeer herders live on almost the same area that
Russia’s capital city, Moscow, occupied in 2011 (before the
addition of New Moscow in the south-west).

A large area of land is essential for the families
survival in the tundra: with low temperatures and short growing
seasons, farming is not sustainable, so Indigenous people breed
deer, hunt, fish and gather berries.

"The Sopochin family has more than 200 deer. A female deer usually gives birth to only one calf per year. Female deer always go to the same safe place for giving birth. But the oil industry is building the road in that place. Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134549_238935.jpg"
alt=
"The Sopochin family has more than 200 deer. A female deer usually gives birth to only one calf per year. Female deer always go to the same safe place for giving birth. But the oil industry is building the road in that place. Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Female
deer usually return to the same place to give birth each year. But
the oil industry is now building a road here. 3 Feb, 2017.

Deer feed on grass and yagel (lichens, which grow very
slowly, only 3-5 mm per year), so they can’t graze in one place for
long. That’s why reindeer herders need a large range.

But this delicate balance with nature is under threat.
Everything the Sopochin value is now in danger. The subsidiary
company of Gazprom Neft has announced plans to extract oil and gas
on their ancestral lands.

"Sopochin family members erect a tent in the path of a planned oil industry road. They want to protect the place that female deer come to give birth each year. Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134545_238943.jpg"
alt=
"Sopochin family members erect a tent in the path of a planned oil industry road. They want to protect the place that female deer come to give birth each year. Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Sopochin
family members erect a tent in the path of the planned road. 3 Feb,
2017.

The area is in a watershed where oil pollution can
affect water in streams and rivers from which many people and
animals drink, far beyond these lands. Even before oil
production begins, the company conducts exploratory work and builds
its infrastructure. The reindeer pastures will be cut by roads.

"http://feeds.feedburner.com//https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/reindeer-herder-oil-excavators-siberia"
target="_blank">The situation is getting worse as we speak
. The
Sopochin are already squeezed between two oil companies. This is
the last land where they can still graze deer. But now, the
subsidiary company of Gazprom Neft is building a
road, without consulting reindeer herders, in the place where
female reindeer come to calve in the spring.

"Oil company road construction on Sopochin ancestral land, Western Siberia, Russia, 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134543_238947.jpg"
alt=
"Oil company road construction on Sopochin ancestral land, Western Siberia, Russia, 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Road
construction is moving ahead without approval of the reindeer
herders. 3 Feb, 2017.

Sadly, this situation is "http://act.gp/1Ukz9eT" target="_blank">not an
exception
 - on the contrary, it is typical. There is
no official information on how many conflicts of interest occur
between Indigenous people and oil companies in Russia, but the
system operates in such way that conflicts are inevitable, with
"_blank">consequences for animals, people and an entire way of
life.

We need to fix this. "http://act.gp/2n2vys5" target="_blank">Indigenous people are
working hard to protect their culture
and avoid unnecessary
conflicts, but the system is working against them. Regulations
under which oil companies operate in Russia should at least be in
line with international norms that respect Indigenous rights.

"Reindeer herder and his children, Sopochin family, Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace "
src=
"http:///international/community_images/84/2284/134548_238937.jpg"
alt=
"Reindeer herder and his children, Sopochin family, Western Siberia, Russia 3 Feb, 2017 © Alexey Andronov / Greenpeace " />Sopochin
family members, Western Siberia, Russia. 3 Feb 2017.

A delegation from the United Nations Expert Mechanism
on the rights of Indigenous Peoples visits Russia on March 17-21
and they can help change this situation. Share this story to let
them know the truth.

Konstantin Fomin is a press officer with Greenpeace
Russia.

Witness the lives of the Khanty firsthand, in this 360° VR video
from the region.

"http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/GreenpeaceNews/~4/8uff1Rxt8PM"
height="1" width="1" alt="" />



Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/reindeer-nowhere-to-run-indigenous-Russia-UN/blog/58970/

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