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Animal kingdom

Source:  Lake Baikal: atlas. - Irkutsk, 2005. - P. 64-66.

On the boundary of the two elements - land and water, on the narrow Baikal shore, fascinating and peculiar life forms are found. The Baikal shore is a unique ecological niche the inhabitants of which are connected with both dryland and water. Some of them live on land but feed in water, others spend the greater part of the time in water but breed and end their lifetime ashore. Due to its unique location, the land animals of the Baikal region contain specimens of the fauna found in Central Asia, Europe an Siberia and East Asia. Furthermore, the taiga near-lake backwoods are inhabited by rare animals which have become extinct in other places.

Among the mammals of the upland high ridges, most widespread are mountain goat, snow sheep, Alpine field-vole, marmots, and in some places lemmings. In summer on the slope and valley zones one can come across big ungulate animals and their predators, brown bear in particular. In August and September bears feed in berry bushes and cedar forests. Their traces are seen everywhere.

Rein deer, moose, musk deer, Siberian roe, wild boar, and ermine are typical fauna between the Alpine belt and the sparse growth of trees and the coniferous taiga zone; water rats and musk rats are characteristic of the river banks. Among predators besides bear there is lynx and wolverine. Squirrel, kolinsky, fox, Alpine hare, and chipmunk are among the Baikal fur-bearers. The taiga also shelters and feeds a great number of little mice -like rodents and insectivorous animals. Roe deer, polecats, ground squirrels, field - voles, insectivorous animals and wolves mainly inhabit the forest steppes.

At the most inspired hour, Nature presented the world with a sable - the most typical and valuable inhabitant of the south Siberian mountain taiga. What does this little animal mean to Russia? Russians followed the sable trail throughout Asia to the Pacific Ocean. In the XVII th century fur-trade made up half of the national income of Russia. Salaries were paid in sable skins, debts were also repaid in sable; Russian tsars presented the nobility of Europe and East with sable. Sable fur is valued not only for its beauty, but because it is rather practical and durable. Nowadays, there is great demand for sable at international fur auctions. Sable, or the "fur-king" as it is sometimes called, was awarded several gold medals. It is not very easy to see a sable in the taiga. The sable is a very careful and exremely secretive predator.

The woods are impossible to imagine without birds. There are over 260 species of birds on the protected territory. Some of them such as hazel-hen or capercailye live permanently; others come for wintering and summering.

The problem of animal protection is especially vital now, in the epoch of technological progress that gave powerful instruments of nature impact to the man. Humanity taking into account all the negative consequences of the past, realizes that the loss of any biological species of wild nature damages economic interests of the society at present and can lead to irreplaceable losses in the future.

Rare animals are species that are not threatened with extinction at present. However, they are in such a small number or on the limited territory that they can disappear at any unfavourable changes of the habitat under the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors. The really frightening phenomena for animals are poaching, unregulated bunting and their disturbance. Endangered species are those species that are on the brink of extinction the rescue of which is impossible without taking special measures.

For the protection of rare and endangered species the following actions are being taken: strict and complete ban on hunting, maximum preservation of    the environment,   creation   of special   nurseries, national parks, reserves and preserves.


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