February 2019 – December 2019
The Baikal seal is an endemic species, the only mammal of the Baikal and an indicator of its ecosystem’s stability. 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.
- 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 who show interest in the Baikal seal.
- to obtain missing scientific data about current state of the Baikal seal population;
- to work out strategies to improve the state of 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 supports 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 for the first time will describe 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 Baikal seal preservation and the scientific program were put into agenda of the 10th International Scientific Сonference «Marine mammals of the Holarctic» which will take place in Arkhangelsk October, 29 – November, 2, 2018;
- Lake Baikal Foundation became the winner of the Presidential Grants Competition 2018 in the direction of «Environmental Protection and Animal Welfare». According to the results of the 2018 competition, a grant was awarded for the implementation of the project «The Baikal Seal Year». The grant amount was 4,658,460 rubles. The scientific part includes the support of the research program mentioned above in a part of satellite tagging of Baikal seals which will be conducted for the first time on lake Baikal with the use of humane, non-invasive methods. The social block consists of two parts: interactive lesson for 3-4 grade schoolchildren in Irkutsk region and in the Republic of Buryatia, occasioned with the Day of Baby Seals; and a special media project of Lake Baikal Foundation which will promulgate the results of conducted research of the state of endemic seals and their habitat. These measures are aimed at contributing to environmental education of children and adults, particularly at shaping careful attitude to the unique animal of the Baikal – the Baikal seal.
The project is implemented with the Presidential Grants Foundation support