Watch Hundreds of Reindeer Create Stunning Spirals in the Snow

Thanks to innovative aerial technology, humans can now get a glimpes of a little-seen herding event.
Feb 28, 2014·
Liana Aghajanian is TakePart's weekend editor. Her work has appeared in ForeignPolicy.com, BBC.com, Los Angeles Times, and TheAtlantic.com.

You might have been lucky enough to see a reindeer up close at some point in your life, but chances are you've never seen them from this incredible view. Using a hexacopter drone with six propellers and a camera, photographer Jan Helmer Olsen managed to capture their mesmerizing rhythm in motion from an amazing aerial view in snowy northern Norway. The result is a soothing, soundtrack-enhanced clip of life in one of the world's most remote regions. The herding took place just two miles south of Kautokeino, an area considered to be one of the cultural hearts of the indigenous, reindeer-herding Sami people and where the reindeer outnumber the people, 100,000 to 3,000.

In certain regions, reindeer herding is legally reserved for Sami herders, who refer to their work as "boazovázzi" or "reindeer walker" and use every single bit of the animals they slaughter, from the meat to fat, hooves as well as antlers and hides. Their semi-nomadic way of life however, is becoming increasingly threatened by climate change.

With deer feeding primarily on hybrid algae and fungi organisms called lichens, changes in weather have caused hard ice to form over their surface, ultimately preventing reindeer from reaching them, according to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization:

The Sami call this ‘tjuokke’ – the locking away of pastures under an impenetrable sheet of ice. According to a Swedish government report, difficult winter conditions will become increasingly common as climate change advances.

Capturing aerial footage of reindeer herding had long been a goal of Olsen, who has permission from the Norweigan civil aviation authority to shoot from the air. The hexacopter he uses is small and easily maneuverable, he explains on his website, suitable for shooting scenery and buildings.

Last October, the BBC's hexacopter made its debut, giving media professionals an innovative way to bring a new world view to audiences. BBC Transport correspondent Richard Westcott shared the good news:

This machine is unique in being able to go close to something then soar into the air in one smooth movement. It can creep along the ground, shimmy a fence, crawl through a tree then climb to 400ft (120m) for a spectacular panorama.

As television and online journalists, we are very excited about its scope to change the perspective of our films.