Ten muskox calves were delivered from Yamal to the Arctic village Volochanka in northern Krasnoyarsk Region to set up Russia’s first muskox farm there. The farm will produce qiviut (soft underwool), a representative of the Khaski-Tyal family community Denis Terebikhin told TASS.
The muskox farm is part of a project to establish ethnic villages. The region will create four villages to keep the traditional lifestyles and occupations of the indigenous peoples. The project in Volochanka is implemented by the Khaski-Tyal family community, which has won a regional grant.
“The transportation of calves was very difficult because of the weather conditions <…> In Russia, it will be the first farm, where muskoxen will be domesticated,” he said. “Nowadays, muskoxen live in different areas: on Taimyr, in Yakutia, on Wrangel Island – some animals are wild and some live in semi-free conditions in huge enclosures but are still undomesticated.”
Muskox (musk ox) is a massive animal with a large head, short neck and powerful rounded horns. Adults have thick and long wool hanging down to the ground. Males weigh up to half a ton, females – less. Muskox is similar to bison, but most scientists nowadays refer the species to the goat subfamily. This duality is reflected in their name.
The oxen lived in Siberia, including on Taimyr, about 3,000 years ago, archaeologists say. Their herds grazed on pastures next to mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses. The population went extinct due to the climate changes and human hunting. About 50 years ago, muskoxen’s reintroduction (return to the territory where they used to live) into Siberia began.
In 1974, Canada gave ten muskoxen to the Soviet Union as a present. They were brought to the Bikada River area. Later on, another herd arrived from the US. Eight years later, as many as 66 animals inhabited Taimyr. Nowadays, scientists say the herd numbers a few thousand animals. From Taimyr, the oxen were taken to other regions. The history of the animals’ re-acclimatization on Yamal dates from 1997.