The Baikal Seal

The Baikal Seal

April 2018 – nowadays

The Baikal seal is an endemic species, the only mammal of the Baikal and an indicator of its ecosystem’s stability. In the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources the species had status Lower Risk/ Near Threatened from 1996 to 2008, since 2008 – Least Concern (the INCN Red List, 2018). The Red Book of the Russian Federation does not assign a conservation status to the Baikal seal, it is commercial species (The Red Book of the Russian Federation, 2001).

The current state of the population is understudied – we lack data about population dynamics, its age structure, season migration and impact factors. There was no evaluation of population’s well-being since anthropogenic impact on the seal’s habitat has increased. Simultaneously the news about poaching and abuse of animal with high level of emotional intellect requires urgent measures in scientific and educational fields.

Lake Baikal Foundation holds activities to resolve the problems listed above.

Goal:

  • to shape responsible and careful attitude to the Baikal seal on the part of scientific community, environmental organizations, local population of the Baikal region and people all over Russia.

Targets:

  • to obtain missing scientific data about current state of the Baikal seal population with non-invasive and minimally invasive, humane methods;
  • to work out strategies to improve the state of the endemic population in cooperation with the partners on the scientific program based on data obtained by them;
  • to send the expertise and recommendations based on the results of the research to environmental regulatory bodies and other institutions which work in environmental field;
  • to hold educational activities for schoolchildren to shape careful attitude to the Baikal seal;
  • to inform wide audience about the results of scientific research on the Baikal seal, launching a special project in regional and national media which also includes educational part.

What has been done:

  • Lake Baikal Foundation initiated a comprehensive program on the research of the Baikal seal and its habitat. Together with A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS the Foundation organized a round table discussion «Current Threats to the Baikal Seal» with participation of marine mammals experts. The participants discussed the reasons and the consequences of threats to endemic population and to the Baikal ecosystem as a whole, as well as measures for its protection. By the end of the discussion they decided to work out a comprehensive program under the aegis of Lake Baikal Foundation with the aim to find innovative approaches to counting and studying the Baikal seal and to send expert recommendations about preservation of the population to relevant regulatory bodies and to the public;
  • Lake Baikal Foundation has supported the development of comprehensive scientific program on the research of the Baikal seal and its habitat together with A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS. In the framework of the program initiated by the Foundation the scientists described new affordable methods of studying the Baikal seal and its habitat. The scientific program also includes recommendations on preservation and well-being of the endemic species considering increasing anthropogenic impact on lake Baikal. Due to the support of Lake Baikal Foundation the topic of the Baikal seal preservation and the scientific program were put in the agenda of the 10th International Scientific Сonference «Marine mammals of the Holarctic» which took place in Arkhangelsk October, 29 – November, 2, 2018. In the aftermath of the Conference the scientific program was sent to the leading Russian and forign research institutions on sea mammals, governmental bodies, SPNAs of the Baikal region. Among such organizations are: Limnological Institute of SB RAS, The Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography,  The Baikal Nature Interregional Prosecutor’s Office, Association of natural protected areas «Zapovednoe Pribaikalye», Association of natural protected areas «Zapovednoe Podlemorye»;
  • in 2019 Lake Baikal Foundation has launched the project «The Baikal Seal Year» aimed at studying the Baikal seal and shaping conscious attitude to it. The project became the winner of the Presidential Grants Foundation’s contest in 2018 in category «Environment and Animals Protection». You can learn more about the project here.

The project is implemented with the support of Presidential Grants Foundation

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Biodiversity Conservation