The wild reindeer, Rangifer tarandus , is an important and easily recognized symbol of Norway’s natural and cultural heritage.
The reindeer migrated north from France more than 10,000 years ago, following the glacial front as it retreated with the melting of the ice sheet covering most of Europe. In Norway the reindeer found a suitable climate and other favorable conditions that enabled them to thrive.
At the time, reindeer meat was an important source of food in Europe, and many people followed the reindeer as they migrated north. We believe that parts of our country were settled in this way.
Today Norway has approximately 25,000 remaining wild reindeer, living in various herds. Of these, the reindeer in Rondane National Park in eastern Norway are most closely related genetically to the original stock. The largest population of reindeer is located in Hardangervidda National Park. Throughout the country, many wild reindeer herds are under serious threat as a result of the ever-growing human encroachment on unspoiled alpine areas.
Rock carvings and paintings throughout Norway attest to the importance of reindeer in our heritage. Among the most outstanding examples are the rock drawings and engravings in the Alta Fjord in northern Norway, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1985. The rock art at Alta dates back as far as 4200 to 500 B.C. and includes thousands of illustrations of wild reindeer and other ancient fauna, as well as scenes of boating, hunting, fishing, dancing, and ritual acts.
We in Heritage Adventures use as our logo a rock carving of a wild reindeer, the ideal symbol to represent our focus on Norway’s natural and cultural heritage.