Ten Inviting Facts About Caribou

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1. Caribou is also known as reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).
• It has two ecotypes (species);
• Tundra reindeer, mostly found in Siberia and Alaska and;
• Woodland reindeer which are widely seen across Canada. Majority of these subspecies stay in forest all year.
• These species are further subdivided into several more subspecies.

2. Caribou is the only member of reindeer family with both male and female having antlers.
• Antlers of female caribou are shorter than that of males.
• Compared to other subspecies of reindeers, their antlers are thicker and wider.
• It symbolizes dominance and power.
• In females, it sheds after giving birth while in males soon after mating season but it grows very rapidly.
• Antlers of caribous are of great importance as they use it in digging the snow to search for food and in general it is their main weapon

3. Caribou can weigh as heavy as five hundred pounds.
• The largest among the subspecies of caribou belongs in the boreal group.
• Male caribou has an average weight of one hundred fifty kilograms and approximately 1.2 meters tall.
• They are mostly sedentary type inhabiting mature forest mainly on lakes and river regions.

4. Caribou has natural winter coat.
• They can adapt and thrive well in a cooler environment.
• Their full body is covered by hair which is a great insulator during winter season.
• These shed off in July upto mid-August.

5. Caribous are herbivores.
• They are feeding on plants and grass. Their favorite foods are lichens (also called reindeer moss) which are mostly found on mature forest.
• Furthermore, they are highly selective on feeding on individual species and variants of plants.

6. Caribou are migratory.
• While some subspecies of caribou are sedentary dwelling in an undisturbed habitat, most are migratory. This is their typical habit in search for food in their verge of survival.
• Caribous are natives of Arctic in North America and in the mountainous regions of Northern Europe.
• Extensive migration is during spring and fall.

7. Caribou can run as fast as 50 miles per hour.
• They use this strength to escape predators eyeing on them.
• Predators of caribous are mainly carnivores roaming around icy mountains and arctic regions mostly wolves and grizzly bears.
• During migration season, they travel with an average of about twenty three miles in a day (ranging from eleven to thirty three miles).

8. Caribous are quite sensitive.
• They are vulnerable to loss of a place to dwell. One of the battle caribous are facing are caused by human disturbance and fragmentation or damage in their habitat.
• As an effect of ever changing world, industrial development may potentially pose destruction of vegetation that increases caribou’s risk for predation (i.e. hunters).
• This is one of the causes of their population decline.

9. Caribou are typically shy.
• They are highly secretive reindeers, the reason why they mostly prefer to thrive on large forests and are off the road.
• During widespread deforestation, they are in a great struggle to find new habitat.
• Caribou, specifically the woodland reindeer is becoming highly endangered which is why many naturalists are on the verge of promoting programs for wild life preservation.

10. Caribou has a remarkable role in ecosystem.
• The removal of forage, gasses emitted and nutrients from the fecal matters for mineralization of soil influencing plant growth are some of their contributions to nature.
• In addition, during their travel, the fecal pellets along their frozen pathways (during winter) return to the aquatic ecosystem.
• They also play a parallel relationship with the aboriginal people of the polar ecozones as part of their culture.

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