Thanks to holiday earworms, we know an awful lot about Donner and Blitzen, but when it comes to wild reindeer, we've still got much to learn.

Each year, Olav Strand and the team at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) travel across the tundra in search of the last remaining Eurasian reindeer. They know the animals' favourite stomping grounds, but have been able to observe them only from afar in the past. Now, thanks to special collar cams, researchers have 140,000 photos that provide a rare peek at the lives of reindeer as they move across the frozen landscape. 

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Image: NINA/used with permission

The cams, fitted on GPS collars, allow the team to get year-round intel on the reindeer – and to keep tabs on them when the weather is too extreme for humans to be out on the ice. "We've learned a lot about them," says Strand. "How they utilise the landscape, and how infrastructures like roads [and] hiking tails form barriers and have closed their old migration corridors."

The nomadic animals require huge swathes of land to survive, and the team hopes the information gleaned from the collar cams will allow local authorities to better protect them. Of course, not all the photos were usable. "Naturally, it's a lot of fur and snow," adds Strand. "But now and then it is also images of situations and animals living in incredibly harsh environments – stuff that no human has seen before. It was therefore clear from the beginning that we had to distribute these pictures to a wider public."

The photos have been published in the book Midt I Flokken ("In the Midst of The Herd"), which the team hopes to translate into English early next year.  

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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission
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Image: NINA/used with permission

Top header image: NINA/used with permission