One of the world’s lesser known biodiversity hotspots, the Caucasus covers an area of more than 500,000 sq km between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and includes parts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Turkey.
The region is home to a wealth of wildlife – including the Caucasian Leopard, Brown Bear, Grey Wolf and Bezoar Goat – and has a high level of endemism, meaning many of the species that live here are found nowhere else on Earth.
Since 2010, World Land Trust (WLT) has been supporting conservation projects in Armenia’s Caucasus region. Find out how WLT is helping...
WLT is funding land purchase and protection projects to extend the 1,084 acre (439 hectare) Caucasus Wildlife Refuge and strengthen a ranger team to tackle illegal hunting within the region.
Other projects in Armenia:
How WLT is helping
WLT was instrumental in helping FPWC establish the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge, in collaboration with our partner IUCN Netherlands, who provided a grant to fund the reserve and its expansion over the next five years.
FPWC is constantly looking to protect more threatened habitat in the region with support from Armenian and international partners, such as WLT.
In the meantime, WLT is helping FPWC reduce illegal hunting by supporting rangers through the Keepers of the Wild programme. Not only are the rangers increasing protection of the region and its wildlife by reducing uncontrolled hunting and poaching, but as local members of the community they are also playing a vital role in challenging the cultural acceptance of wildlife hunting through educational campaigns and awareness raising.
Urgent funding needed
WLT is focusing its fundraising efforts in Armenia on the Keepers of the Wild programme and funds support four rangers including Manuk Manukyan – a trained vet and one of the most experienced nature guides in the country.
In September 2012, WLT launched a special appeal: Save the Caucasian Leopard. Donations to the appeal will help expand the scope of FPWC’s conservation activities to protect a vital leopard corridor, strengthen research and monitoring of this regional subspecies, reduce illegal hunting and raise environmental awareness.
An area of great ecological importance, the Caucasus is included in the list of biodiversity hotspots; one of the 25 regions which together cover only 1.4 per cent of the Earth's land surface but contain nearly half of all plant species and a third of all terrestrial vertebrate species.
Over 152 species including: Caucasian Leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica), Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus aegagrus), Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Grey Wolf (Canis lupus), and Caspian Red Deer (Cervus elaphus maral).
Over 380 species including: the endemic Caucasian Black Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi) and Caucasian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus), as well as Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), and globally threatened waterbird species, such as Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris), Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus), and White Headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Armenia is home to many vultures species including Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus).
About 7,500 species, of which 35 per cent are endemics.
Threats to Armenia's Caucasus region
Uncontrolled hunting and poaching is a serious issue throughout Armenia: killing extremely rare species bolsters standing with the community, while also fetching a high price on the black market.
Degradation and destruction of wildlife habitat is caused by illegal logging, plant gathering and overgrazing, as well as human-induced wild fires.
To help tackle these threats, along with land protection projects, FPWC is working to raise environmental awareness through media campaigns and educational groups, which includes running the Sun-Child eco club.
FPWC staff also hold environmental festivals and conferences, aiming to create a network of conservation partners throughout the country to safeguard the Caucasus region, which is largely unprotected.
The rugged and cliffy terrain of the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge borders the 60,000 acre Khosrov State Reserve, located south-east of the capital Yerevan on the south-western slopes of the Geghama mountains.
FPWC protects the 4,202 acre (1,700 hectare) refuge and all its wildlife with a small but dedicated team of rangers, led by Manuk Manukyan who is supported by WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme. This ranger team has successfully reduced illegal logging and hunting in the region, with FPWC reporting an increase in wildlife sightings thanks to the rangers’ efforts.
The rangers also lead environmental activities in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge with members of the Sun-Child eco club, helping to teach young people about the importance of conserving our natural world.