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Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) head in Greenland
The caribou (Rangifer tarandus) is widely distributed across the circumpolar region, and is otherwise known as wild reindeer outside North America. Indigenous populations, many of whom have evolved over several thousands of years alongside caribou, practice both subsistence and commercial hunting and use the caribou for food, clothing and shelter. Two major wild reindeer populations exist in west Greenland, which between 2001-2005 have declined from about 45,000 to 35,000 individuals. This decline, as with other regions in the Arctic, is likely due to natural cycles in populations related to large-scale climate changes, in combination with changing harvest practises and industrial developments.