The chain of cause and effect seems clear: climate change causes Arctic temperatures to fluctuate, which causes ice build-up as snow repeatedly thaws and refreezes. And to Arctic reindeer herders–who want their herds to continue to eat the nice lichen underneath all that ice–the next link in this chain is also clear: castrate your reindeer.
“Males castrated in the traditional way would have an increased chance of survival over other males since they maintain body weight and condition during the rutting season,” according to a research document by Eli Risten Nergaard of Sami University College.
But that’s not all. Researchers have found that castrated male reindeer are larger than their un-castrated brethren, are therefore better able to pound through the thick Arctic ice; they’re also more willing to share their food with calves. In other words, castrated male reindeers facilitate the survival of the entire herd–that is, assuming they’re not all castrated.
Even the best-planned documentaries can go wrong, especially when there are curious polar bears involved.
In this case, the BBC was spying on the polar bears of the Arctic islands of Svalbard for a documentary called “Polar Bear: Spy on The Ice,” but their spy-tactics could have used a bit of help. The cameras were “camouflaged” as icebergs and snow drifts, but that didn’t fool these curious bears, who caught on pretty quickly that snow and ice aren’t supposed to move that quickly.
The cameras worked just fine in in the -40 Fahrenheit weather–it was the bears who ripped the cameras to pieces, destroying about $200,000 worth of equipment. The documentary, directed by John Downer, aired on BBC One on December 29th, but you can see it here at the BBC’s iPlayer (sadly, UK only).
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