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Take Pictures Of Saiga In Kalmykia
September 12, 2015 21:15


The Centre of Wildlife was established in Yashkulsky District of Kalmykia. The only micropopulation of saiga living in captivity appeared in the Kalmykia steppe. Photographers organize an ambush in the main aviary of the Centre. Once in two or three days saiga certainly passes by the ambush at least once at a distance of photo shot. You can see not only saiga - the Centre of Wildlife turned into a steppe mini-zoo today. Camels and horses, ponies and sheep, wild pigs and ostriches live in the aviaries. There is even a buffalo called Mishka, a gift of Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve.

All this diversity is naturally complemented and enlivened by the landscape. Nearby there is a man-made canal that supplies the entire Kalmykia with water. Fish lives in the canal, demoiselle nest on its reedy banks. In the second half of April the steppe is covered with a carpet of blooming tulips. They are not as big here as on the bank of Manych, but even undersized tulips give the steppe its extraordinary charm.

There are more than 90 antelopes in the reserve today, and their number grows every year. The antelopes are kept in cages from 3 to 62 hectares in size, so it is easy enough to see them. At least, you do not have to wait for them for a week, like in “Chyornye Zemli”. The State Biosphere Reserve with the ominous name “Chernye Zemli” (“Black Lands)” is a place where saiga antelope can come in early May to show the newborn calves to the world. The migration routes of saiga pass through the territory of the reserve. Saiga antelopes are relict animals, they survived the ice age, but were defenseless before the poachers of early nineties. The modern barbarians literally assassinated them for horns sold to China (saiga horns are valued as a drug in oriental medicine). The reserve created in early 1990s was designed to protect the endangered steppe antelopes from complete extermination. Unfortunately, the efforts of the reserve were not enough. It is still impossible to stop the decline in the number of animals, although its rate is slow.

To watch the saiga in their natural habitat is a unique opportunity for any zoologist and naturalist. It is no surprise that “Chernye Zemli” is loved  by photographers: such famous masters as Igor Shpilenok, Valery Moseykin and many others came here. The herds of saiga occupy the so-called “steppe section” of the reserve bordering Astrakhan Oblast. The western part of “Chernye Zemli” lies in the waters of the Manych River which has completely different fauna and very different landscapes. These are swampy banks overgrown with reeds instead of the endless steppe. Many species of birds are nesting and wintering in the dense thicket: from Dalmatian pelicans and northen shovelers to demoiselle cranes and little bustards. These banks are an ideal place for bird watchers. The western part of “Chernye Zemli” is called an ornithological site. In the second half of April one of the protected islands in Manych gets covered by a carpet of tulips. Not dozens or hundreds - thousands of tulips bloom at the same time on a small piece of land with a total length no more than a kilometer. It is strictly prohibited to pick them. Photos will be a decent trophy. Plus unforgettable impressions.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Kalmykia     

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