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In the sable kingdom at the grey Baikal

Author:  Ananin A.
Source:  Conservation of natural and cultural heritage of Baikal. - Moscow-Ulan-Ude, 2010. - . 26-29.

From the reserve history

The reserve is obliged for its establishment to outstanding Russian gamekeepers, who timely estimate the consequences of catastrophic reduce of sable in number. Russia always was famous for the wealth of "soft gold" - furs. The dark Barguzinsky sable with its thick and silky fur was of the permanent specific demand. The anxious signals on degradation of sable business by the end of the 19-th century began to be received from the fair and exchange committees, scientific and local administrations, and fur traders. The number of sable skins at the markets reduced for five-six times. If, for instance, 61 thousands of sable skins arrived at the Irbitsky fair in 1889, then in 1910 - a little over 10 thousands only. The last straw to break the camel's back was the report of the Irkutsk General-Governor for 1910-1911, where the extremely poor state of the sable business was reported.

On April 16, 1912 the Government made the resolution, in which it acknowledged the necessity in immediate extension over Siberia of the law on the sable protection and indicated tie: urgency of allocation of reserve areas. On June 9, 1912 the Law "On establishment of restrictive to sable hunting measures" was adopted, which established the total and all-round for Russia triennial ban since February 1, 1913 through October 15, 1916 for both the sable hunting, and the trade in sable skins caught in Russia after February 1, 1913.

The department of Agriculture in Saint-Petersburg supported the idea of organization» of three expeditions. One of them, Barguzinsky under the direction of the prominent scientist-zoologist and expert in hunting G. Doppelmair took its way towards the north-eastern coast of Baikal. One of the few areas of valuable Barguzinsky sable had remained exactly here The organization of the Bargunsinsky expedition' was started in autumn 1913. The expedition under the direction of G. Doppelmayr, amonjl the members of which there also were K. Zabelin, Z. Svatosh, A. Baturin and D. Alexandrov, arrived on July 1, 1914 on steamship "St. Theodosius" in Sosnovka bay at the north-eastern coast of Baikal. Sosnovka was inhabited with Tunguses (it was the name for Evenks at that time). There were 19 families (68 people) living there of united Podlemorsko-Shemagirsky and Kindigirsky kins. There was a kin administration in the village with public store and kin archive, church, beacon, which keeper was the observer of the meteo-station of Irkutsk magnetic observatory as well, office facilities and several wintering log-huts.

The expedition's arrival and the fact itself of its presence at the Baikal coast made the positive impact. Already in winter of 1914-1915 the predatory catch noticeably decreased. Rare violations of the ban occurred mainly in northern rarely visited area part.

Upon arrival the expedition crew started the very hard, serious exploration work, which continued for two years. In addition to sable business research they were occupied with biology and ecology studies of other commercial animals, formation of bird and rodent collections, study of the area natural conditions, mapping of territory for the reserve to come and government hunting site. The central homestead of just organized reserve was the Sosnovka village. A little later in 1940s the central homestead of the reserve was relocated to Davsha bay, where the village of the same name was built.

Valleys of all rivers at the two hundred kilometers part of the Baikal coast were covered with exploratory routes. The nursery was built in Sosnovka village in spring 1915 for sable biology studies. In the process of regular observation for two animals Z. Svatosh obtained unique data on life of a reticent animal, its housing in captivity, and the first sable brood was received. The reserve establishment was aimed at a specific purpose - to keep the Barguzinsky sable from total extermination, restore its range and number, and promote sable restoration all over the country. Therefore, the reserve was named as sable and hunting. As the result all activity at the reserve add up to protection of the reserve borders; protection and accounting of sable business at the exploitation site; development of scientifically grounded activities on arrangement and rational performance of sable business; testing of sable breeding in captivity. This work was not interrupted during the Civil War years thanks to selflessness and devotion of the reserve founders Z. Svatosh and K. Zabelin, who lived and worked here for the rest of their lives.

The official date of the Barguzinsky reserve establishment could be the resolution of the Irkutsk General-Governor of May 17, 1916. After the presentation to the Senate this act was endorsed by the Government of Russia. The edict on establishment of the first in Russia state reserve was one of the latest "peaceful" documents published in January 1917. Along with the strictly protected area the government exploitation area adjacent to the reserve area was established, which existed through 1937. It was aimed at the development of rational nature use methods, including the Barguzinsky sable stocks.

The work was intensive and enough full during the first two years of work only. During this period a number of preoperational works were done: pathways were cut, buildings were constructed, and tests with sable breeding in captivity were performed. In following years due to the total devastation the state of the reserve deteriorated, material security and its staffing at that period were completely insufficient. Few pairs of skies and rowing boats - it was the whole equipment of the reserve those years. During the period 1919-1923 there was only one staff member in the reserve - head Z. Svatosh. A lot of powers the personnel spent on combating the poaching. Thus, in only one season of 1927-1928 22 poachers were seized in Sosnovka area at Barguzinsky ridge. Having the low salary, bad living conditions, remoteness form the outer world few, mainly enthusiasts, were living here fanatically carried away with their work.

In 1937 the Barguzinsky reserve was acknowledged as the reserve of the national significance, and its area was expanded up to 570 thousands hectare due to abolishment of hunting exploitation area part and extension of the reserve regime over this territory. The Resolution of the Government of the RSFSR of March 16, 1944 all reserves, including the Barguzin-sky, were categorized as the scientific-research institutions. By this time the reserve already fulfilled totally its primary task on conservation and restoration of the Barguzinsky sable population, and it changed its direction and scientific profile - from the targeted or "species" it became the integrated reserve, i.e. protection and studying of the whole natural complex.

Current moment

Today the state natural biosphere reserve Barguzinsky   is   the   environmental   protection, scientific research and environmentally educational institution that is aimed at conservation and studying of natural processes and phenomena, genetic fund of flora and fauna, particular species and phytocenosis and zoome, typical for and unique for ecological systems. The reserve is entrusted with tasks to protect the natural areas aimed at the conservation of the biological diversity and maintenance in natural conditions of protected natural complexes and objects, scientific studies, including the Nature Chronicle keeping, environmental monitoring,    environmental enlightenment, participation in the state environmental expertise of projects and economic and other objects' layouts, assistance in training of scientific staff and specialists in the field of environmental protection, as well as testing and introduction at the reserve biosphere ground of rational nature use methods that do not destroy the natural environment and do not deplete biological resources.

In December 1986 the Barguzinsky reserve received the UNESCO certificate on inclusion into the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, The international status of biosphere reserve assigned with the specific requirements to the arrangement of the reserve work. In this regards a big work was done in the reserve on the development of concept and regulatory documents on establishment of biosphere ground and extension of the reserve area using the buffer zone. As the result in 1987 the Barguzinsky biosphere reserve was the first in the USSR that established the biosphere ground, and in 1989 lands of the bio-ground (111,146 ha) with all natural objects were included into the reserve area.

In recent years the activity of the reserves in the field of environmental awareness became more active noticeably. It is grounded with the Museum of Nature, founded in 1953 on the basis of the scientific division. In 2004 the Museum was visited by 293 persons, including 106 foreign tourists. The Museum serves as the base for organization of exhibitions in Ulan-Ude, Severobaikals and its district, which are attended by thousands of people.

In Nizhneangarsk in 2000 the visit-center was arranged, which is occupied with information dissemination on the reserve activities, formation of local communities positive attraction to the protected areas, environmentally awareness work with children and tourists. There are ecological library, video and photo collections available, and the collection of original art crafts is collected.

It is possible to continue meeting the world of taiga reserve at excursion routes along ecological paths "Birikan" and "Shumilikha". In 2004 the reserve was visited by 644 tourists, including 127 foreigners. Ecological camp Podlemorie" (By-the-sea-site) located in Davsha village was attended by 2 groups of schoolchildren in 2004.

The Barguzinsky reserve never interrupted its scientific and natural protection activity during its almost 90-years existence. Over half a century the reserve provides the natural processes course. The long-term monitoring observations did not reveal noticeable directional alterations of anthropogenic genesis. All noticed deflections have fluctuation character and reflect natural transformations registered at natural complexes.

Today there are 8 persons working at scientific division, 4 of them are Ph.D.'s. They continue keeping of the Nature Chronicle started in Barguzinsky reserve even in 1936. In the recent three years 40 publications were developed, including the collaborative treatise "Monitoring of natural complexes of the north-eastern near P Baikal region". Scientific research works are  performing in cooperation with 15 scientific-research institutions, and with mobilization of  domestic and foreign grants.

Despite the long period of carrying out the scientific research works in the reserve there is a work to do still. The fungi, algae, lichen and moss are not enough studied. Among animals the inventory of various terraneous insects, arachnids, aquatic invertebrate animals and fishes of internal water objects should be continued. The helminth fauna of aquatic and  terrestrial vertebrates is not studied in practice. The time for a new inventory of mammals had come, among which murine rodents, insectivorous and chiropterans are not studies sufficiently. The agenda includes integrated forest management and development of landscape map of the reserve territory.

At the present time the Barguzinsky reserve, as the whole system of specially protected areas of Russia, is experiencing the difficult situation. During the administrative reform the specialized structure occupied with protected areas defense was lost. In this regards in recent time the cases of attempts for illegal withdrawal of parts of reserves and national parks, illegal economic activity became more frequent.

The meeting of directors of the Russian reserves, national parks and environmentally oriented public representatives with the Chairman of the Council of Federations of the Russian Federation Mr. S. Mironov took place on May 19, 2004, after which the letter to the Government of the Russian Federation was issued that covered the most important problems of the sectoral development, as well as possible ways for their addressing. As the result the Government made decision on partial restoration of the governmental administration of the sector - at the level of division in the MNRE of Russia. But this did not decrease the problem acuteness in the SPA system. The crisis continues to intensify.

As the first step towards the reserves protection it is necessary to establish a specialized federal agency that would be assigned directly to the head of the Russian government. The state reserves, national parks, as well as federal zakaznks and other areas requiring protection should be subordinated to this agency.



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