How I take advantage of science to guard my folks’s birthright

I’m Guardian of the Pipmuakan forest within the Nitassinan territory of Quebec, Canada. I act because the eyes and ears of my folks, the Innu, in order that we are able to shield the caribou (atik within the Innu language). The caribou, or reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), is sacred to the Innu. For hundreds of years, it offered us with meals, garments and instruments.

In my work, I mix ancestral data with new applied sciences. The data contains the right way to assess the ice thickness and snow depth, and the right way to determine the freshness of animal tracks. Drones, satellite tv for pc photographs and GPS are among the many new applied sciences I take advantage of.

I journey throughout the Pipmuakan space no less than 4 days per week on both my quad bike or snowmobile, in search of caribou tracks and different indicators of herds and their predators. I additionally set traps for wolves.

Caribou are very delicate, so I all the time keep away from getting near them. Once I see new caribou tracks, I take advantage of the drone to determine their location and ensure the variety of animals within the herd, whether or not they’re male, feminine or each, and if there are new calves. The drone additionally permits me to identify herds behind dense thickets with out scaring them.

Logging is the principle menace to this forest and to the caribou. In winter, caribou eat lichen from bushes. However logging destroys the lichen, and permits wolves — the caribou’s principal predator — to see their prey from afar.

On this image from the third quarter of final 12 months, I used to be crossing Kakuskanus lake in a pontoon boat to succeed in a distant space of the forest. My grandparents drowned on this lake when their canoe overturned. For 36 years, I couldn’t go to this place. I used to be mourning.

However in 2017 I felt an urge to guard the land and got here again. A century in the past, there have been hundreds of caribou right here. Now there are fewer than 200. With out the caribou, the Innu wouldn’t have survived on this forest. Now it’s time for us to assist the caribou. I need my grandchildren and the next generations to expertise the richness of this forest.

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