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The animal kingdom


Diversity of climatic conditions, complicated ruggedness of relief, visibility of high zones, and also territorial location of the republic at the turn of phyto-landscapes of various genesis have defined wealth and diversity of flora in Georgia. On a comparatively small territory there are developed various plant formation from semi-desert foothills of eastern, the most droughty part of the republic and lush forests in humid region, almost subtropical climate of Colkhetian foothills to original cryophile (cold-resistant) mountain plant. Ruggedness of relief and mountain range structures promotes role of geographic and ecological isolation of regional ecosystem. Hence high level of local endemism (endems of the Caucasus, Colkheti, of Iberian and front Asian origin, etc.) Around 5000 species of flowering plants, about 8300 ferns are to be found on the territory of Georgia (75 species of Filicinae, 5000 mushrooms, 2000 algae).

Forests occupy 38.6% of Georgian territory. Area covered by forest equals to 2.69 million hectares. Greater part (95%) plays soil protective and water-retaining role. 461 thousand hectares of forests are strongly cut and degraded. Beechwood occupy 1.027 million hectares, coniferous wood (fir, silver fir, pine-tree) - 0.47 million hectares, deciduous forests occupy rest of the territory. In the high mountains of Georgia there are distinctly expressed sub-alpine, alpine, sub-cornfield and cornfield zones. Sub-alpine zone is the richest in various sorts of plants. In this zone as height increases above sea level plantations of trees are reducing and herbage - is intensified. Sub-alpine lower border lies at the height of 1800-2000 m. From this level forest gradually grows thin and plantations of other formations appear - sparse growth of park type trees, curved trees, high herbage and meadows. From forest generating plantations of tree sorts to sub-alpine, zones reach Caucasian types of beech, silver fir, fir, pine-tree, birch, mountain maple, eastern oak and several other mountain sub-alpine borders, zones go along about on the level of climatic bounds of tree plantations development. Depending on local physico-geographical conditions (massiveness of mountains, continental, exposition of slopes, etc.), this boundary varies within 2350 - 2650 meters. In connection of activities of a man (felling, pasturage of domestic animals) most part of sub-alpine zone is nearly deprived of tree plantations.

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The animal kingdom

The animal kingdom is highly diverse and represents a combination of European, Central Asian and North African elements. Suffice it to say that in Georgia there are around 100 species of animals, more than 330 sorts of birds, 48 kinds of reptiles, 11 sorts of amphibious, and up to 160 kinds of fishes registered. There are a lot of invertebrate animals to be found in Georgia: insects, Arachnida, myriapods, shellfish, worms, etc.

Two sorts of goats are characteristic of alpine and sub-alpine zones: Dagestani and Caucasian living in high mountains of the Caucasus and represent endemics of the Caucasus. In Khevsureti and in some places of Tusheti there are bezoardic goats entered as an extinct in the "Red Book" of Georgia (RBG). Chamois is spread widely. Endemics of the Caucasus - Prometheus mouse and Gudauri vole are found on alpine meadows. Dagestani hamster lives in Khevsureti, in some places it is found a long-tail shrew, Caucasian shrew, etc.

Out of birds in this zone there are quite a few Caspian ular (Snowcock - Tetraogallus Caucasicus)(RBG) met in alpine zone of Minor Caucasus. In the Caucasus there live Caucasian ular (endemic of the Caucasus), golden eagle, lammergeier and lesser black-back gull, entered in RBG as narrow areal species as well. In some places there can be met Caucasian pebbles and others. As in alpine as in forested zones it is spread widely Caucasian heath-cock (RBG). Rock lizards are found in alpine zone and trout - in reservoirs. There are a lot of insects and shellfish there.

There are a lot of representatives of the animal kingdom in a forest zone. The following mammals are typical: deer, roe deer, wild boar, wolf (found everywhere); the following are wide-spread: jackal, fox, wild cat, lynx, brown bear, badger, forest and stone marten, weasel; it is Caucasian marsh-otter (RBG) is only found in Bzipi gorge. A large natural areal is occupied by otter (but met in isolated specimen everywhere), Caucasian squirrel, dormouse, forest mouse, shrub, rare Asiatic and water vole. There are hedgehogs, moles, shrews and others met in many places. Cheiroptera is fairly often found (horseshoebearer, etc.).

Out of birds in this zone there are often met Caucasian pheasant, pigeon, turtle-dove, woodcock, curlew, great snipe, snipe, rare specimens: hawk, kite, black vulture, eagle owl, various owls; numerous cuckoos, kingfishers, wrynecks, woodpeckers (black, motley green), crow, magpie, pebble, chaffinch, yellow-hammer, wagtail, tomtit, gold crest, nightingale, wren, swallow (village, town), chif-chaff, redpoll, robin, etc.

Out of reptiles yellow-bellied, medium and quick lizards, blind snake, ordinary and grass snakes (yellow-bellied, olive, long, etc.) are typical to a forest zone. There are just of few Caucasian and horned vipers, Mediterranean turtles.

Out of amphibia there are Caucasian salamander, triton of Asia Minor and Caucasian garden-spider (all included in RBG). Lake frogs and Asia Minor are spread widely, grey and ordinary toads, etc.

In fresh waters there are trout, poduct, khramuli, barbel, murtsa, sheat-fish, wild carp, in some places - river perch, pike, etc. Forest zone is rich in various invertebrate animals (insect, Arachnida, shellfish, worms, etc.).

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  © Armenian Ecotourism Association
Eco-Agrotourism in South Caucasus, 2002