Pribaikalsky National Park is a specially protected natural area and also a home to many species listed on the Red Book of Irkutsk Oblast and the Red Book of Russia.
“Key to Baikal” made a selection of the most interesting living creatures and plants living in the national park.
All populations are located on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park.
It is a real relic of remote geological epoch which has survived until today. The northern limit of distribution of the Siberian toad goes along the Southern Cisbaikalia. There are several small populations of this species there, on the periphery of its extensive range, these populations are of relic origin. The toad inhabits the Tazheran steppe massif, including the coast of Maloe More and the southern part of the Island of Olkhon, there are some known local settlements from the lower reaches (right bank) of the Anga River to the left bank of the Sarma River.
The species is not numerous even in the optimal habitats of Irkutsk Oblast. The severe climatic conditions of the region restrain the growth of abundance of this species on the Baikal coast. In addition, natural reasons have been aggravated by the increased anthropogenic load in recent years.
Two of the three habitats of the Pallas’ coluber are located on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park: the Island of Olkhon and the territory around it.
This elegant and harmless snake can rightly be considered an ornament of the Baikal coast. It climbs well and moves quickly both along the branches of trees and on the ground, swims and dives perfectly well. These snakes can be seen on the coast of Lake Baikal among the stones and algae washed ashore in about late June - early July.
The most significant factor in reduction of the number of the Pallas’ coluber is direct hunting and its extermination by humans.
All the populations of the Olkhon field mice are located on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park. This is the only endemic species of mammals in Irkutsk Oblast, a relic of the Quaternary period, the origin of which is associated with the origin of Lake Baikal. Olkhon field mouse has a small range; its main habitat is presented by rocky outcrops and stony deposits in Tazheranskaya steppe, on the islands of the Maloye More Strait and on the Island of Olkhon.
There has been a tendency to reduction of suitable habitats of the Olkhon field mice and reduction of their range in recent years. Studies show that one of the factors leading to the reduction in the number of Olkhon field mouse is the growth of anthropogenic load in the park. Tourists often use stones from the deposits populated by field mice for the construction of stone pyramids, which leads to the destruction of habitats of this rare species. According to experts, the number of field mice does not exceed 1000-1500 animals and is steadily shrinking.
Zunduk hedysarum is a relic of the Miocene desert-steppe flora, the indigenous endemic of the world’s only habitat of the species on the limestone slope of the Zunduk River drift cone.
The Russian name of this plant is due to its bizarre shape (“kopeechnik”, which hints to its resemblance of small coins). This is a perennial, undersized, stemless plant, growing on the slopes covered with crushed stones. Since there are few such areas, the range of this plant is very limited.
It grows only on the western coast of the Olkhon Island. All populations are located on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant. It grows on wind-blown sands, sand dunes. The state of the populations is unstable, depending on the mobility of the coastal dunes. The most part of the habitat is subject to significant anthropogenic load. The main threats include recreational use of the species’ habitats, cattle grazing.
A large eagle, its name in Latin means “sunny”, in many European languages it is called “imperial eagle”.
On the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park the bird has been noticed within the Olkhon region. In the Baikal region the eagle was considered sacred by Buryats and was protected by the local population. Many of their fairy-tales and legends are associated with this eagle. At the beginning of XIX century the imperial eagle in Russia was simply called “eagle”. The Russian name (connected with burial grounds), most likely, appeared later, when Russian naturalists often met these eagles sitting on the trees near stone or sun-dried mausoleums. The name has clung to the bird, although in recent years some experts speak in favor of giving it a more euphonious name – “sunny” or” imperial”.
The species is globally rare. Saker falcon is a large falcon having a variable color: from dark brown to rusty gray. The necessary conditions for its nesting are the presence of forest areas with the nests of predatory birds or rocks, as well as steppe and meadow massifs with settlements of long-tailed ground squirrels. The bird inhabits forest-steppe massifs in Irkutsk Oblast. In past years the nesting of the species was observed on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park. The bird has been traditionally used as a hunting falcon, which creates a great demand for the catch of this bird.
Many people living on the coast of Lake Baikal believe in its supernatural power. Sometimes the Holy Sea is considered almost a living being or a conductor between the worlds of the living and the dead. And some believe that Baikal can take bloody victims when it wants. “Key to Baikal" will tell about one of these beliefs.
One more remarkable date was added to the calendar of holidays precisely 20 years ago, in 1998. March 14 has since been celebrated as the International Day of Rivers. However, it is the holiday’s name in Russia, and among of environmental activists this date is known under a slightly different name - the International Day of Action Against Dams (and for Rivers).
The circles on the ice of Lake Baikal were called a “Baikal phenomenon”, “UFOs’ landing traces” and many other names. The recent sensation excites inquisitive minds, so we are trying to find out what these circles really are.
Baikal is one of the few water reservoirs characterized by so many superlatives. The deepest and greatest, the most transparent and purest, the unique repository of fresh water ... To be brief, Baikal has many peculiar features, one of them being ice.