As a part of the project «Rescue of the Khamar-Daban group of forest subspecies of wild reindeer in the central part of the Khamar-Daban range» scientific group organized expedition from 7th till 18th of July 2021. The researchers from Baikal state natural biosphere reserve undertook the first stage of the research on the state of the population of wild reindeer, having a research grant from Lake Baikal Foundation.
The purpose of the expedition was to find out new and confirm habitats of the isolated forest subspecies of wild reindeer of the Altai-Sayan population. To achieve it the researchers explored the most part of wild reindeer habitat in the central part of the Khamar-Daban range. During 12 days more than 200 km have been covered, including around 100 km in the habitats of the wild reindeer.
During the field work, tracts with mountain tundra have been examined, which had been overlooked before by other researchers. Here traces of the wild reindeer have been registered (excrements, footprints). Before scientists had only assumptions that wild reindeer lives here. For the first time, the researchers have used quadcopter for the search. It allowed not only to expand the area of the research, but to explore hardly accessible snowfields. The square of the area that has been examined with quadcopter is 5 km2with duration more than 1 hour. The research team managed to detect a herd of the wild reindeer with 26 species thanks to «mobile aviation». It helped to save up time on the exploration of the area to find species.
Moreover, this year number of trap cameras has been increased from 4 to 15 items thanks to the grant of Lake Baikal Foundation. It will allow to receive more information about the state of the wild reindeer (numbers, habitats, stations, sex-age structure of the population, periods of ruts, nutrition, breeding, ethological structure, molting time, influence of the predators on the population).
Based on data, received during the expedition, the number of wild reindeer comprises of no less than 27 subspecies. Longitudinal data of monitoring confirm that the number of wild reindeer is stable.
Preliminarily main habitats of the subspecies have been specified. The nets of the trap cameras will help to determine the modern state of wild reindeer in the central part of the Khamar-Daban range. As a part of the project one more expedition is planned, in which the scientific team will check installed trap cameras and conduct a research in the autumn.
For information: In 2020 Baikal state natural biosphere reserve became a winner in the grant contest for young Baikal scholars «Baikal Initiative 2020», organized by Lake Baikal Foundation, with project «Rescue of the Khamar-Daban group of forest subspecies of wild reindeer in the central part of the Khamar-Daban range».
Khamar-Daban group of forest subspecies of wild reindeer of the Altai-Sayan population, which lives in central part of the Khamar-Daban region, is isolated from the main population and small in numbers. This group was last time studied by M. Smirnov. PhD in Biology, in 1981. In the 18-19th century, population had average number of species (around 150 species) and was important part in the ecosystem chain. Today this group is exposed to the risk of extinction and included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation (2020) and the Red Book of the Republic of Buryatia (2013). Wild reindeer is the only mammal that is included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, which lives in Baikal state natural biosphere reserve.