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Reindeer Herds In Sweden In Danger Of Starvation Due To Drought

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Sweden's reindeers need help. Indigenous Sami herders are calling for urgent financial aid following droughts and wildfires across the far north.

Climate change has already manifested itself in Sweden. The European nation is currently experiencing an unusually warm summer season this year, peaking at 30 degrees Celsius in July.

Reindeers Might Starve

The extreme heat experienced in Sweden has also posed a major threat to the local wildlife. Drought and scattered wildfires have destroyed pastures and forests, leaving animals, including domesticated reindeers, with nothing to eat.

That is why herders are asking for economic support from the government to help pay for the feed of the reindeers in the coming months.

"If we don't get aid, how can we make sure that the reindeer survive this winter," said Niila Inga, chair of the Swedish Sami Association, in a statement to The Local. "It's a question of survival for the reindeer and for the whole Sami culture, because we depend on the reindeer."

The indigenous Sami people are the only ones authorized to herd and care for the reindeers in Sweden. About 4,600 Samis are currently raising up to 250,000 semi-domesticated reindeers, reported The Guardian.

They are hoping to receive money that will be used to fund the supplementary fodder, which the animals would need as a replacement for winter grazing after the drought and wildfires destroyed the pasture. They said that it would take up to 30 years for the land to recover from the damages procured from the unusually hot summer season.

Inga, who has met with the Swedish government to discuss their situation, also hopes that measures be adopted for the country to adapt to the new climate. He added that the funding the Sami people have requested will also be used to find ways to replace the lichen that reindeer feed on and improve grazing areas.

In June, the Swedish government announced an aid package to farmers hit by this year's drought. However, Inga said that the fund did not include provisions for reindeer herders.

Summer In Sweden

The reindeers are not the only ones affected by the extreme heat waves in Sweden. A glacier peak lost 13 feet in height after ice and snow melted atop the Kebnekaise Mountain. The glacier peak had initially been the highest point in Sweden before it melted because of the sweltering heat.

The Swedish Sea Rescue Society also reportedly had to carry out about 350 rescue operations in July due to the unusual heat that has attracted locals toward lakes and coastline.

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