The reptile sightings
In summer, when temperature was reaching up to 45C, insects, spiders and snakes became too active. With the sunny days the reptiles also leave their winter quarters in holes and burrows. Reptile sightings include an Agama (Laudakia caucasia) and a Schneider’s skink (Eumeces schneideri princeps) listed in the Red Book of Armenia as both reptiles suffer from landscape deterioration and habitat destruction.
One of the venomous snakes inhabiting the area, the Armenian Viper (Montivipera raddei) has bitten a pregnant horse who was about to give birth to his cub in 4 days. Sadly, we couldn’t save both.
During my recent hikes in the area I have discovered that one deep cave is populated by bats among which I was able to recognize Meheli’s Horseshoe Bat –a white bat whose nose is really like a horseshoe. This species is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 3.1) as Vulnerable VU A4c. According to IUCN criteria categorized as Vulnerable VU B1a+2ab(iii). This bat was originally recorded in Armenia for the first time in 1945. In total, its range encompasses the area from the Goris district’s Khndzoresk village westwards to Armavir town, northwards to Yerevan city and further to the Ijevan district, Tavush Province. Those bats give birth only to one baby in early summer thus the population experiences a strong decline, with only singular individuals surviving in some sites (Karmir Blur, Magili, Chaikend) and currently inhabiting the cave in our area. Human visitations to caves during the breeding, rearing and wintering seasons are the major treats to this species; therefore we do not allow anyone to enter the caves during those periods. For the reporting period we have encountered and recorded many grey wolves, foxes, martens, bezoars, brown bears with a cub, bearded vulture and griffon vultures.
As during every year in summer season, we still face problems with watering and maintaining the trees. The groundwater and artesian wells in Ararat valley have declined due to overuse and exploitation of fisheries which resulted in a decline of the Vedi river flow. Still we intend to restore the woodland in the area to improve the wildlife habitat in CWR. Thanks to EOCA funding we can plant 4000 trees in 2014/2015 for which we have already started the design of the irrigation network and evaluation of the best option.