19 June 2018
Lake Baikal Foundation advocates for saving Baikal fauna and in 2018 launched the first joint project with ornithologists from Baikal Natural Biosphere reserve on protecting and studying the population of yellow-breasted bunting.
Yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola) is a Eurasian passerine bird in the bunting family (Emberizidae). It used to be one of the most widespread bird species in Russia. Its breeding area stretched from Finland and south-western border of Ukraine in the west to Kamchatka and Japan in the east. Yellow-breasted bunting inhabited the whole territory within Baikal region and dominated in some areas. However, over the last 30 years this bird has drastically decreased in numbers.
Being one of the most widespread species, yellow-breasted bunting is now on the Red List of the International Union for Nature Conservation in category EN (endangered). The species is included in the Red Books of the Irkutsk Region and the Republic of Buryatia. There is a threat of extinction of the species, both in the Baikal natural territory and the world fauna in general.
As part of the international monitoring program for terrestrial bird species in East Asia in November 2016, China held a meeting on the preservation of yellow-breasted bunting. The directions of work were determined with the aim to preserve the species. Scientists consider that the main reasons for its number decline are the degradation of habitats and the direct extraction of a species by a human in the wintering places and migration.
The Selenga delta, the key ornithological territory of world significance, was selected for researching. Wetlands of the delta of Selenga River are included in the list of the Ramsar Convention sites, are a part of the World Natural Heritage site of UNESCO «Lake Baikal», they are also under the protection of the Federal Reserve «Kabansky». One of the most massive nesting settlements of yellow-breasted bunting in the region and the world is situated here.
According to initial observations, yellow-breasted bunting still lives in the Selenga delta, but its density is significantly lower than 30-40 years ago.