Shikahogh Reserve: Exploring Armenia’s Hidden Oasis of Ancient Forests and Rare Wildlife

Shikahogh Reserve: Exploring Armenia’s Hidden Oasis of Ancient Forests and Rare Wildlife

Nestled in the southern part of Armenia, on the northern slopes of the Meghri Range, lies the Shikahogh Reserve – a true haven of untouched nature. Designated as one of the region’s unique areas by the World Fund of Wild Nature, this reserve is a testament to the country’s rich biodiversity.

The Shikahogh Reserve, established in 1959 on the foundation of a local forest enterprise, spans 10,000 hectares and is home to a staggering 1,074 varieties of plants. Its primary mission is to protect leaf-bearing trees, including oak and hornbeam forests, yew and plane tree groves, as well as areas with particularly interesting and rare flora. These habitats are crucial for the survival of rare animals unique to Armenia and the world.

The geographical features of the Zangezur Range, stretching from south to north, act as a natural barrier, blocking humid air from the Caspian Sea and preventing hot air flows from the Iranian deserts. This creates a variety of climatic conditions, with each small gorge having its specific microclimate and hosting interesting plant species.

The Shikahogh Reserve boasts not only breathtaking landscapes but also cultural artifacts. Burial grounds from the Bronze Age, ancient fortresses, monasteries, bridges, and medieval churches dot the reserve, adding a layer of historical significance to its natural beauty.

While the flora is diverse, ranging from relic ferns to endemic tulips, the fauna is equally impressive. Brown bears, wild boars, roe, and rare Transcaucasian/Syrian brown bears inhabit the reserve. The upper boundary is home to the lynx and Asian leopard, both listed in the Red Book of IUCN.

Birdwatchers will delight in the variety of species present, including black and whitehead griffons, Caspian tetra Gallus, and the Caucasian heath-cock. However, these species face the threat of extinction, highlighting the importance of preserving this natural paradise.

In recent years, human activities have impacted the Shikahogh Reserve. Grazing, forestry, and hunting have left their mark, necessitating intervention for conservation. The Government of Armenia, along with international donor organizations, is actively working to improve the natural ecosystem of the reserve.

In conclusion, Shikahogh Reserve stands as a testament to Armenia’s commitment to preserving its natural and cultural heritage. As you plan your next adventure, consider immersing yourself in the untouched beauty of Shikahogh – a hidden oasis waiting to be explored.

Shikahogh Reserve on map

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