November 2018 – December 2019
In 2019 Lake Baikal Foundation holds a unique series of activities aimed at studying the Baikal seal and sustaining the welfare of the population. «The Baikal Seal Year» project is intended to draw the attention of the public, government and business to the unique endemic species; to set the stage for systematic studying and monitoring of the only Baikal’s mammal.
The Foundation has already begun the implementation of the program in cooperation with the specialists on the seal and worked out educational materials. In 2018 the project was supported by the Presidential Grants Foundation, having won the grant contest in category «Environment and Animals Protection». The grant amounted to 4 658 460 rubles. The other part of the project’s budget will be covered with co-financing from Lake Baikal Foundation.
- to shape responsible and caring attitude to the Baikal seal on the part of scientific community, environmental organizations, local population of the Baikal region and people all over Russia.
- to obtain missing scientific data about current state of the Baikal seal population with non-invasive and minimally invasive, humane methods (satellite tagging and biological samples collection);
- to conduct offline- and online-lessons dedicated to the Baikal seal with invited experts for schoolchildren of the Irkutsk region, the Republic of Buryatia and other regions of Russia;
- to launch a special project which includes the results of the Baikal seal scientific research and an educational part, in regional and national media;
- to work out strategies to improve the state of the endemic population in cooperation with the partners on the scientific program based on the data obtained by them;
- to work out a plan on further environmental education program on a basis of feedback from the partnering organizations of the program.
- during May-June 2019 the educational institutions of Irkutsk and the Republic of Buryatia held The Baikal Seal’s lessons (offline-lessons). 2459 children took part in these lessons. Present and future keepers of the Baikal flora and fauna learnt about caring attitude to the Baikal seal and found out many important facts about the endemic species. The eco-lesson is aimed at preventing illegal hunting and poaching, mitigation of the human-seal conflict, increasing the level of general eco-culture, shaping conscious attitude to the Baikal’s fauna and the reasons for its degradation;
- 5-12 July, 2019 the expedition on satelite tagging of 15 Baikal seals was held on the Ushkany Islands (part of the special natural protected area «Zapovednoye Podlemorye»). Satellite tagging of such scale was held for the first time on the Baikal. Among the participants were scientists from A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS, employees of the Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography and Association of natural protected areas «Zapovednoe Podlemorye». Beside that, the scientists managed to collect 174 samples of biomaterial from seals for further analysis.
What will be done:
- following the results of the summer 2019 expedition we will create an online-lesson for the schoolchildren of 5-11 grades and representatives of wide audience who are interested in the Baikal seal’s conservation;
- we will obtain scientific data about intrapopulation processes and work out strategies on conservation and welfare of the endemic species considering the increasing level of anthropogenic influence on its habitat;
- we will obtain data about physiological state of the Baikal seal in modern environmental conditions by results of virological, serologic, genetic tests, analysis of the animals’ immunological and hormonal status;
- all data obtained during the program will be presented in a special media-project with regional and national partners: for the first time it will be told about what threats the endemic population is facing and what the man has to do with this;
- the further development of the program implies promotion of comprehensive support of the Baikal seal population and systematic activities on its studying at the governmental level.
The project is implemented with the support of Presidential Grants Foundation