Kamchatka can lose reindeer

Wild reindeer is included in the Red Book of Kamchatka

Kamchatka can lose reindeerPhoto: Fotolia

The results of the 2010 census of wild reindeer within the Kamchatka Peninsula continues to decline.

For 5 years, the total population of ungulates on the peninsula fell from 2.5 thousand to 950 individuals! Specialists of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve regard this situation as a very disturbing signal, which requires urgent measures to protect the species from total annihilation!

In Kamchatka, home to one of the largest subspecies of reindeer Palearctic. The world’s largest antlers of reindeer is now owned by an animal of Kronotsky-Zhupanovsky populations (Eastern Kamchatka). The peninsula is home to a special mountain tundra form of animals that have adapted to the specific conditions of mountain-volcanic areas of the peninsula.

Unlike other subspecies of reindeer, committing extensive seasonal migrations, to Kamchatka deer characterized by a seasonal change of habitat habitats – from the foothills of the volcano to the coastal tundra. This adaptation is related to the temporary unavailability of coastal grassland in winter and relatively low productivity of mountain-tundra vegetation in volcanic regions of Kamchatka, where a stay of deer and grazing lasts no more than 70–80 days a year, which reduces the load of animals on pasture, preventing overgrazing of mountain-tundra vegetation.

Kamchatka has always been famous for the abundance of snow. That is the nature of the distribution of snow in the mountains was the most important natural factor limiting the distribution of animals on the peninsula. Animal populations Kronotsky seasonal change of pasture pattern: every year in the same time frame the deer to move from the winter grazing, and using the same migration routes and trails, access to the maritime zone. The first deer in the coastal zone were recorded by the middle of May. During the summer months the distribution of different mosaic animals: deer grazed in the open areas of coastal tundra, coastal terraces and fens of East Kamchatka. Females at this time produce offspring, male-pantachi led a solitary lifestyle, hiding in the floodplains and terraces of river valleys. In September, the open coastal tundra was a formation of marriage groups. In the Kronotsky Nature Reserve is happening in the coastal tundra and lowland areas.

In the coastal zone of the deer stayed until mid-December. Carting place in the winter grazing, and the formation of large wintering flocks occurred in December and January, with snowfall. The wild deer wintering area went with all the coastal area of ​​the reserve. Previously, most of the deer migrate to the border areas of mountain tundra Zhupanovsky Dolov. But every year to reduce the number of animals migrate to neighboring areas. More than 20 years of tundra reindeer herding was conducted. This factor, along with poaching, eventually led to the fact that wild reindeer «lost» the best plots of winter pastures.

Until the mid-60s on the peninsula inhabited by a single population with different wintering areas, which has, however, shared contacts and exchange of animals as a result of seasonal migrations along the Middle and Eastern ranges. By the mid-70s on the peninsula formed three geographically isolated «hearth» habitats of wild deer: Kronotsky-Zhupanovsky; Southern and Ozernoi-Ukinsky. The total area of ​​ungulate habitat within the peninsula in those years reached 85 thousand square meters. km. After separation of these populations and their territorial insulation broke off the exchange of animals and began to form separate populations with their rate of reproduction, the demographic structure, seasonal rhythm of succession of habitats habitat and ecology. According to our estimates, the habitat of wild reindeer on the Kamchatka Peninsula has decreased by almost 16 times, had not exceeding 5000 square meters. km (16-fold reduction).

The negative impact of domestic reindeer in the wild reindeer population is very significant: animals use the same fodder and pasture, the same paths and migration routes, especially in terms of limiting focus on the same areas of pastures with available forage. At the same time domestic reindeer in the absence of extensive lowland pasture on the peninsula have to feed a long period in a limited area, which quickly leads to purposeful destruction of mountain-tundra vegetation on poor slag and volcanic soils. Herders, seeking to protect livestock herds, deliberately shoot and displace from the winter pastures of wild deer.

And the most important thing! Reindeer in the Eastern Kamchatka (for the East Ridge) has historically never been. Domestic reindeer there has never been traditional land! Eastern Kamchatka territory has always been a large population of wild deer population that exploited the indigenous population is very rationally and reasonably. Hunting wild reindeer are performed only at the beginning of winter and before the formation of large herds of wintering.

The development of these new home of reindeer pastures began in the mid-sixties of the last century. And it continues until 1998. The maximum number of domesticated reindeer on Zhupanovsky dolah and along the borders of the reserve reached 7.5 thousand heads. Such a large number of wild deer here never lived. Mountain tundra volcanic pasture areas could not feed in winter as ungulates. Just over five years as a result of two grazing herds of reindeer on the tundra Zhupanovsky Dolov almost been knocked out pastures and wild reindeer «lost» Traditional pasture for wintering. Over the past twenty years (1980–2000.), The number of wild reindeer on the peninsula fell from 7.5 to 3.5 thousand heads.

Kamchatka can lose reindeer

Photo: Jean Avenas’

The most devastating livestock reduction occurred in the South and the Ozernoi-Ukinskoy groups. Once the largest in the South Peninsula group of wild deer, even in 80 years with more than 3 million animals and have the highest reproductive potential, now virtually ceased to exist. In 2002, there were up to 100 animals that were driven into the foothills of volcanoes. The reserve «Deer Dol»Created to preserve this population, did not save the situation. According to the latest data within the mountainous areas still found 15 to 25 animals. So before our eyes was destroyed by one of the largest herds of wild reindeer on the southern peninsula.

Ozernoi Ukinskoe-herd before the 80s employs more than 1.5 thousand head of deer. By 1987, the population dropped to 1,000 head. In recent years, animals of this group were subjected to intense persecution in areas of winter pastures on the eastern slopes of the Middle Ridge and in the river basin. Elovka. Stopped seasonal migration of animals on Ozernovsky Peninsula and the maritime zone as it was before. Aerial surveys in 2002 showed a complete lack of animals in the area. We can state the fact of the extermination and once the largest group of wild reindeer on the peninsula.

The maximum size and relative stability until recently maintained a Kronotsky-Zhupanovsky herd of wild reindeer. Tracking this population showed that the offset is gradually winter grazing areas and the reduction of the total number of categories. The role of the protected area in the preservation of a stable nucleus of the population every year increases substantially. Our credentials in 1998 Kronotsky-Zhupanovsky herd numbered more than 3.2 thousand heads. At the same time up to 2.9 thousand head of deer grazed exclusively on the conservation area, not otkochevyvaya abroad protected area (90% of the population). And we are seeing a disturbing trend of reducing population: in 2007 the number of groups is not higher than 1900 individuals; In 2008 the results of aerial surveys in the protected area the deer population was estimated at 1,600 heads; in 2009 it decreased to 1 200 animals.

The results of aerial surveys in 2010 confirmed the worst predictions: the reserve number of deer has less than 1,000 individuals.

Since the early 70-ies of hunters and scientists of Kamchatka first expressed concern for the fate of the Kronotsky-Zhupanovsky herds in connection with the intensive development of domestic reindeer on Tolbachinskyi dolah and in the center of Kamchatka.

Currently, wild reindeer is included in the Red Book as the Kamchatka «malochislenny view from the focal character of the distribution and decreasing population».

The prospect of the restoration of wild reindeer on the basis of Kamchatka Kronotsky population still persists. But this requires a set of urgent measures, including the establishment of a nature reserve along the borders of the protected zone with an annual population status and control allocation of places in the winter grazing reindeer closed for site visits.

IN AND. Mosolov, Deputy. Director for Science FSI «Kronotsky reserve» December 14, 2010 at 15:06

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