Danila V. Panchenko, PhD, Senior Researcher of the Institute of Biology of the Karelian Research Centre of RAS (185910, Russia, Republic of Karelia, Petrozavodsk, Pushkinskaya Street, 11); iD ORCID:; email:
Antti K.J. Paasivaara, PhD, Research Scientist of the Natural Resource Institute Finland (Latokartanonkaari 9, FI-00790 HELSINKI, Finland); iD ORCID:; email:
Marja S.A. Hyvarinen, Research Technician of the Natural Resource Institute Finland (Latokartanonkaari 9, FI-00790 HELSINKI, Finland); iD ORCID:; e-mail:
Yuri A. Krasovskij, Senior Researcher of the Kostomuksha State Nature Reserve (186930, Russia, Republic of Karelia, Kostomuksha, Priozernaya Street, 2); iD ORCID:; e-mail:

Reference to article

Panchenko D.V., Paasivaara A., Hyvärinen M., Krasovskij Yu.A. 2021. The wild forest reindeer, Rangifer tarandus fennicus, in the Metsola Biosphere Reserve, Northwest Russia. Nature Conservation Research 6(Suppl.1): 116–126.

Section Research articles

The existence of the wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) in North Europe is under threat. Urgent measures are needed to protect this species. One of the main measures under consideration is the development of a network of Protected Areas (PAs). The Russian part of the Finnish-Russian Friendship Nature Reserve includes a part of the Metsola Biosphere Reserve (MBR). The MBR contains habitats of the Kuhmo Area – Lake Kiitehenjärvi's (Lake Kamennoe) R.t. fennicus subpopulation and it is of great importance for this animal. This area mainly includes summer pastures and rutting and calving areas, while some of these animals also use this area as winter pastures. Tracking animal locations and moving activity with telemetry showed the continuation of seasonal migrations of this animal across the Russian-Finnish border. This confirms the mix of animals living in Finland in the region of Kainuu and animals living in the Republic of Karelia (Russia), as well as the importance of the MBR for maintaining the genetic diversity of R.t. fennicus in both countries. Some of the animals may change their migration patterns and seasonal home ranges, staying in Russia for wintering. There was one case of a collared R.t. fennicus female moving far to the east from the Kuhmo Area – Lake Kiitehenjärvi subpopulation's habitat to the surroundings of the village of Chernyi Porog (Segezhsky district). The genetic purity of R.t. fennicus is influenced by the reindeer husbandry practice in Finland. There are cases of semi-domesticated reindeer (i.e. originating from another Rangifer tarandus subspecies, R. t. tarandus) occurrence in the MBR, where they were observed in mating (harem) groups of R. t. fennicus. Evaluation and analysis of the age and sex structure of the subpopulation in the summer-autumn period in Russia in 2018–2020 showed a small percentage of calves, approximately 12% of all encountered animals. This may indicate a high predator pressure (e.g. from the side of Canis lupus, Gulo gulo, and Ursus arctos). Over the last three years, out of 16 collared R.t. fennicus females appeared in Karelia, four of them were killed by predators. The location of the habitats near the state border west of the fence, protected with barbed wire (engineered structures) together with control in the PAs (including MBR) ensure the animal protection from poachers. There was only one case of animal death caused by illegal hunting over the last five years. Forest logging may have a significant impact on the future of R.t. fennicus in the MBR. Under conditions of increasing human impact on the surrounding areas, the MBR importance in the R.t. fennicus population conservation also increased. However, to enhance the positive effect, it will be necessary to expand the network of PAs. One of the nearest promising potential PAs is the planned Kalevala Sanctuary.


biodiversity, human impact, migration, Protected Area, rare species, telemetry, ungulates

Artice information

Received: 09.12.2020. Revised: 24.02.2021. Accepted: 01.03.2021.

The full text of the article

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