Protected Areas of Armenia
The Shikahogh Reserve
The Shikahogh Reserve is situated in the nortern slopes of the Meghri ridge
that protects the area from hot air masses from the Iranian Plateau, while the
high Zangezur range stretches from north to south and slows humid air from the
Caspian Sea. Such a system of mountain ranges and ridges creates a wide
diversity of climate conditions. Here, as elsewhere in the mountains of the
Southern Caucasus each small gorge has its own special microclimate with
peculiar fauna. The general climate here is warm and humid. In 10 000 hectares
1074 species of plants can be found. It is the only reserve where gorgeous
primreview forests with rare relict ferns have survived since the dinosaur era,
and where Ophioglossum vulgatum and Pteridium tauricum are preserved.
The Reserve is a sanctuary for many disappearing and endemic species like
Galanthus transcaucasicus, G.artjuschenkoae, Tulipa confusa, Pyrus zangezura,
Symphyandra zangezura, Hypericum Eleonorae. There were over twenty types of
local plants included in the Red Books of Armenia and former Soviet Union.
Thanks to the mild climate and numerous close gorges not only single
representatives, but whole communities and islands of tertiary flora have
survived here such as yew grove (Taxus baccata), the only beech grove in
Southern Armenia as well as ivy, persimmon, plane and walnut, Fagus orientalis,
Hedera helix, Diospyrus caucasicus, Platanus orientalis, Juglans regia,
Periploca graeca etc. It is also possible to find Castanea sativa, Zelcova
carpinifolia. At lower altitudes there are thin forests of Araxes oak,
pomegranates and maples (Quercus araxina, Paliurus spina-christis, Celtis
glabratas, Punica granatums, Acer ibericums).
The main part of the reserve is occupied by the leaf trees - generally oak
and oak/hornbeam forests - occupy the middle area of the vegetation belt at
altitudes of 1000-2200m above the sea.
At the altitudes of 2200-2400m highland oak creates thin forests, change
into sub-alpian meadows with high grass and byriads of blossoming bluebells and
orchids at higher elevations. These meadows are especially beautiful when the
endemic Tulipa confusa - lemon yellow, deep pink, and red - the unique tulip
with a tender lemon scent, is in full blossom. At the highest altitudes of
ridges small multi-coloured carpets of alpine meadows are scattered.
In the reserve there are Levantine and Orsinis vipers, sand boa, collared
dwarf and southern flowered snakes, Slender racer, golden grass and Snider's
The Reserve is home to brown bear, wild boar, roedeer, wolf , beech and pine
martens and porcupine. Occasionally one can find bobcat, Primary-Asian leopard,
Bezoarian goat or wild sheep (Armenian mouflon).
Thanks to such diversity of biotopes the fauna of birds is also richly
presented: Black and Griffon Vultures, Hoopoe, Common and Black Redstarts,
Turtle Dove, Blackcap, Tawny and Scops Owls, Green Woodpecker etc.
There are numerous historical monuments everywhere on the territory of the
reserve - nearby the roads, at the rocky slopes, and in the deep canyon Iron
Age tombs, ancient fortresses, shrines, bridges, medieval churches and
monasteries are situated.