West Altai State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan reserves. The Biggest reserves in Kazakhstan
We are approaching the borders of West-Altai state nature reserve (60 km from Ridder by highway).The reserve was created for the preservation and investigation of the ecosystem of the mountain - West Altai taiga forests. The total area of the reserve is 56,078 hectares.
It is located within the following nature zones: forest, mountain meadow, mountain tundra, and the subniveal and niveal belts. The reserve is situated on the territory of the following Altai mountain ranges: Lineysky, Kholzun, Koksinsky, and Ivanovsky the the sources of their rivers: the Belaya, Chyornaya Uba, and Barsuk - tributary of Turgusun River.
The reserve's terrain is mid-mountain, and not incredibly steep. Only the central part of the Ivanovsky mountain range (Vysheivanovsky Belok, 2778 meters) is notable for its extreme alpine topography. On the tributaries of the Belaya Uba River are 14 small glaciers, whose total area is 1.1 square km with an ice volume of 0.011 cubic km. Up to the forest border are small glacial lakes and brooks emanating from bogs.
On the territory of the West Altai state nature reserve are 4 nature zones: mountain taiga (1500-1900m), mountain-meadow (1900-2800m), and mountain tundra (200-2800m)
The deciduous forest zone is limited in size and characteristic of river valleys. The forests consist mostly of birches and aspens, and the undergrowth is notable for bird cherry trees, mountain ash, and viburnums. The grass cover is very thick and includes the following species: Siberian cow-parsnip, angelica, peony, larkspur, wolfsbane, and dandelion.
The mountain taiga zone varies greatly in its forests: dark taiga, cedar and fir, and coniferous forests.
Dark taiga is characterized by silver firs, aspens, and birches; and the undergrowth consists of viburnums, mountain ashes, and bird cherry trees. Grass cover is rather extensive here. It is represented by such species as the annual ground-pine, wolfsbane, Siberian clematis, adonis, Kuriles tea, European wood [wild] strawberry, raspberry-cane, speedwell, valerian, Siberian adder's-tongue, and grains.
Cedar-fir forests, consisting of the Siberian pine and silver fir, are rich in various species of grassy plants (representatives of the nearest plant zones).
The dark taiga zone is represented by its constituent species of conifers: spruce, silver fir, and cedar mixed with larch and birch.
The subalpine and alpine meadows of the State Nature Reserve are situated at 1800-2000 meters. There are no definite borders between these zones. The main species of subalpine plants are as follows, Altai globe-flower, Asiatic globe-flower, hellebore, and white flower geranium.
The mountain tundra zone is located above 2000 meters of elevation; tundra consists of patches of various plant species which are spread about in spots and stripes. In some places, they alternate with the pure clay soil sections.
Species of plants included in the Kazakhstan Red Book are under the absolute protection of the State nature Reserve. There are 15 such species (among the 40 species representing the flora of the Southeast Altai geographical area; and among 55 species in flora of East Kazakhstan Province). According to present data, these species include: Erythronium sibiricum (Fisch. et Mey.)- Siberian adder's-tongue, Rheum altaicum l. osinsk. - Altaic rhubarb; Gymnospermium altaicum (Pall.) Spach. (Leontice altaica Pall.) , Macropodium nivale (Pall.) R. Br. , Sibiraea aliaiensis (Laxm.) Schneid. - Altaic anthrax, Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Jlyin , the maral root, etc.
Within the reservation area are about 200 species of herbs. These are the most significant reserves of leather bergenia, foalfoot, bilberry-bush, cowberry, origanum, holed St. John's wort, gold and maral roots mentioned above and some others. Some plants form large tracts, which have significant production.
The fauna of the West Altai State Natural Reserve is typical for the mid-mountain region of the West Altai, including two fish species, 2 species of Amphibia, 2 reptile species, 191 species of birds, and 52 species of mammals. The invertebrates species are not investigated. Among birds are the teal, big merganser, black kite, hen-harrier, quail-shooter, common buzzard, common kestrel, rough-legged horned owl, wood grouse, tundra partridge, landrail, Asiatic snipe, big turtle-dove, common cuckoo, woodpecker and many species of the sparrow class.
There are about 50 species of mammals here. They include the common shrew, Altaic mole, fox, bear, glutton, sable, weasel, ermine, Siberian weasel, otter, musk-deer, maral, roe, elk, squirrel, chipmunk, common dark and red field-vole, and the Altai pika.
The list of fish, amphibian and reptiles is rather poor: the umber, taimen, gray toad, common adder, and the viviparous lizard.
Bird species are as follows: the woodcock Scolopax - rusticola L., snipe Gallinago - megala Swinhoe, Asiatic snipe - Gallinago stenura Bonap., annulate turtle-dove - Streptopelia decaocto Friv., small turtle-dove - Streptopelia senegalensis L., tundra partridge - Lagopus mutus Mont., wood grouse - Tetrao urogallus L., goshawk - Accipiter gentiles L., hen-harrier - Circus Cyaneus L., common honey-buzzard - Pernis apivorus L., marsh owl - Asio flammeus Pontopp, horned owl - Athene noctua Scop., sparrow owl - Glaucidium passerinum L., and accipitral owl - surnia ulula l.
Some bird species dwelling in the reserve are included in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. They are the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, baloban, eagle owl, and black stork.
In the North (Ridder) recreational zone and reserve are many unofficial monuments of nature, culture and history.