Wildlife in the reserve

It began as any other working day. When we have started our patrol, it was a perfectly clear day, sunny but already cool. We began our tour of the refuge in the territory where most of the camera-traps are placed, an area known to be the hunting ground of at least one Caucasian Leopard. A particular leopard, known to have been living in the area since March, has been partially recorded twice by camera-traps, although the images have not yet shown a complete picture of the animal. The patrol started with the sighting of two large male Bezoar Goats some 50 meters away. With their magnificent horns, the animals were probably 12 to 14 years old. The animals were very calm and did not take flight even when our dog Bonny started barking at them. The behaviour of the Bezoars is a clear indicator that the animals now feel perfectly safe in the area. Only three years ago an encounter like this would have been impossible as the Bezoars would have immediately vanished from view. Another reason for the bold behaviour of the male Bezoars is that it is mating time and the males are on the look-out for brides. In the breeding season they are unwary and, in many areas of Armenia, poachers take advantage of this. Just after the encounter with the two big bucks, we saw four males around 700 meters away at the foot of Dahnak mountain. While we were checking one camera after another a group of some 40 male and female Bezoars ran into view, among them a mighty buck of about 14 years of age. On our way back to the ranger station there was one more surprise for us. A pair of Bearded Vultures, who raised a chick in 2012 were building a new nest in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge. So there is hope that next year – as in spring 2012 – a young Bearded Vulture will safely be raised in the area.

Ranger: Virab Mkhitaryan

Virab Mkhitaryan