Digest February 2022

Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve announces the completion of the eleventh stage of the inter-regional environmental education competition project “12 Wonders of the Prioksky Forest”! The theme for the snowy January was the owl family, namely their way of life. We asked participants to make a craft related to the diet, patterns of hunting, or habitat of these birds. Final crafts were made in various techniques, therefore, the jury decided to divide these works into categories. The commission of the scientific department and the department of ecological education and informative tourism of the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve is pleased to congratulate the winners!

We invite you to take part in the completion of the ecological and educational project “12 Wonders of the Priokskoe Forest”. On February 2, 2022 the final stage of the project starts, which is dedicated to the representatives of fauna and flora, popular within the territory of Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve. In 1948, the Central Bison Nursery was organized within the Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve for restoration of the bison as a species and its further return to its natural habitat. Because of many years of work, the population of this rare wild bull has considerably increased. At present, anyone can learn its history and be acquainted with it in person. As part of the contest, we offer an independent study of the history of extinction in the wild, the restoration of the species in nurseries and its further return to its original habitat. Based on the studied materials, the participant has to prepare a report.

On February 19, Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve announces a cross-country skiing race called “Reserve Ski Track”. The event is dedicated to the 44th anniversary of the international status of the Reserve and is organized to inform people about the goals and objectives of the Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO. As part of the program, participants take part in the opening ceremony of the ski track, a short physical workout. As part of the event, participants go on a fascinating ski excursion into the winter forest. The trip takes about 7 km. There will not be any speed racing – everyone who comes to the finish line gets medals. The cross-country skiing route goes through the village of Sushki where the old St. Nicholas church of the XVII century is located.  During stops at information points, participants learn about the history of the reserve, visit the Central Bison nursery, where they can learn about the past and present of the last wild bulls of Europe. On a back route, the participants can taste the field kitchen with delicious porridge. Everyone who wants to support Prioksko-Terrasniy Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO and is a friend of sports is welcome to join the event “Preserve Ski Track 2022”!

On the Valentine’s Day eve, the Tourism Committee of the Moscow region has introduced the top five places for the most romantic weekend. Prioksko-Terrasny State Natural Biosphere Reserve is one of them! Here, all bison lovers and ready for an unforgettable excursion through a snow-covered forest along the route “The road to the bison”. This year St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Monday, but this small inconvenience should not prevent the romantic couple from spending their time together, enjoying the beautiful views and communicating with the amazing animals. Walking the protected trail, each couple will have more than an hour and a half to exchange gifts and chat, without missing the guide’s story, of course! The rest of the places for celebrating Valentine’s Day includs: sports and entertainment park “Freezone” (Chekhov), a deer farm “ZooOleni” (Ruzsky area), the museum “Kolomna Pastila” (Kolomna), a farm “Russian alpacas” (Dmitrovsky area). P.S. This day was celebrated in ancient Rome, when the Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry to make them going to the army and not to be distracted by women. But St. Valentine secretly continued to marry lovers, for what he was imprisoned.

Last weekend, a winter trail survey was conducted in the snow-covered forests of the Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Reserve. The purpose of this work is to determine the number of the reserve’s inhabitants: elk, deer, roe deer, wild boar, hares, martens, lynx and other animal species. Recognition of traces is not an easy task, that is why all participants of the event completed serious preliminary training. After a series of practical exercises on the routes,  the staff of the scientific department, environmental inspectors, experienced volunteers, experts of the department of environmental education and educational tourism were able to fulfill the task. The conditions were not easy because of deep snow and above zero temperatures during the day. Occasional sunshine immediately caused a ski slip. On the first day each group of enumerators walked more than 10 km over the snowy ground, marking old trails. The next day the route was repeated one more time. Only in this way it is possible to identify and describe fresh traces. Everyone was tired, but falling in the snow, broken poles and ski bindings could not stop the enumerators – everyone who had left their hoof and paw prints in the snow was counted as carefully as possible. Judging by the number of footprints, we can conclude that the number of moose in the Reserve is quite high. In spite of difficult wintering conditions reindeer are active. Martens did not sink in the thaw after snow compaction and they easily run in the ice, unlike rutting animals which were outdoors. A large number of tracks of Arctic Hares was a pleasant surprise. Numbers of Arctic Hares had been very low for quite a long time, and finally there were positive changes. Nevertheless, the Lynx, whose tracks were found in the forest during the previous days, hid on the day of counting and did not leave fresh traces of its life. The exact number of all animal species of the Reserve will be calculated after processing all the route sheets. The results will be included in the forthcoming issue of the Annals of Nature.

Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve announces the beginning of the inter-regional ecological competition “House Sparrow – Bird of the Year 2022”.  Every year in our country the Russian Bird Conservation Union announces the bird of the year. This year it is the house sparrow. Recently, it was the most common inhabitant of our cities and towns, but now its numbers have dropped catastrophically! In many places of their usual habitat, these active, cute birds have almost completely disappeared. This contest aims to draw attention to our little neighbor, whose decline in numbers has not even been noticed by many! The “Best Craft” contest runs from February 17, 2022 to April 15, 2022.

Today is an important day in the life of the Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve. 44 years ago it joined the World Network of Biosphere Reserves within the framework of the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” Program. It was decided to celebrate this significant event with an event. Professional skier Pavel Zhestkov and the All-Russian Public Movement “Ski Routes of Russia” came to the rescue. Anyone could take part in the cross-country skiing race “Preserved Track-2022”. About 100 people gathered at the Central Manor of the Reserve to support the Prioksko-Terrasnaya Biosphere Reserve. Everything was like at a real holiday! The brass band of the branch of the Military Academy of the Russian Armed Forces named after Peter the Great created a fascinating atmosphere. The treat was buckwheat porridge cooked in the field kitchen. We prepared a lot of presents too! Short summary of “Preserved Ski Track-2022”: many kilometers of the Prioksky forest with an interesting excursion program dedicated to the historical, cultural and natural objects; a story about the activities of the background monitoring station; a visit to the Central European bison nursery. At the finish line, a brass band played well-known hits in honor of each skier and bison puppets handed out memorable medals. The event ended with a festive lottery with prizes from our partners. Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reserve would like to thank its partners for organizing, conducting and participating in the “Reserves Ski Track-2022”. We are very glad that we have many friends, colleagues, like-minded people and generous sponsors! We look forward to seeing you again!

A tour guide is someone who knows almost everything about something and is happy to share their knowledge with others! People of this profession even have their own professional holiday – the International Tourist Guide Day, which is celebrated on February 21. Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve knows about this work a lot! Every year “The road to the bison” is visited by thousands of people. Each group is accompanied by a guide. He or she is the face of the reserve and 99% of the guests’ impressions depend on this person. Tour guides in our reserve have passed a difficult theoretical and practical examination. They are intelligent professionals, ready to tell a fascinating story about the past and present of the reserve territory, plants and animals living here. Excursion is not a lesson at school: each guide tries to interpret the material and present it. Besides, each of them must be inexhaustible friendly and responsible! Do you think that tour guides like this do not exist? Come to Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve and we will prove you are wrong! We congratulate everyone with this professional Excursionist Day!

This event in the Caucasian State Reserve is highly awaited for 6 years – since the creation of the aviary complex here. Having overcome a huge distance from Moscow to Adygea, a female bison named Munika arrived at the enclosure complex from Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve. She is very active, brave and curious, although she is quite old – she was born in 2003. Andrey Stefutin, a veterinarian of the Prioksko-Terrasny state nature reserve: “The animal is strong and healthy; she travelled the long journey of two days. On her way, she was fed, drunk, and made stops to rest. The animal was quarantined in the bison nursery for about 30 days. She was separated from the general herd while there was a daily observation and treatment for parasites”. The living conditions in the new place of residence are very comfortable. The bison has shelter from wind, the feeder is full of hay and twig food, and the drinker has fresh water. The aviary staff says Munya has already tasted all the food presented and seems to have been quite satisfied. Munika will be the second purebred bison because the bison Moire, also donated by Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Reserve, has been living in the Laura enclosure of the Caucasian reserve for more than 14 years.