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Established: 1924
Size: 263,280 ha (2633 km2)

Contact information:
Shevelev, Sergei Georgievich, Director

Karl Marx Street, 8
Sochi, 354341
Krasnodarski Krai, Russia

(7-862-2) 44-51-36, 44-52-65


The Caucasus Mountain Region of south-western Russia is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the Northern hemisphere. Kavkazsky Biosphere Zapovednik, located in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Krais, is one of a chain of nature reserves protecting this biological hot spot. Here, unique Caucasian tur and chamois scramble up steep mountain slopes, while rare European bison browse in young forests. Scores of other endangered animals and plants find refuge in this extensive protected area. In awe of the region's timeless beauty, Christopher Shaposhnikov, the founder of Kavkazsky Zapovednik, wrote in 1928: "The sight of snowy mountains [caressed] my eyes with their milky mist. Here I have feasted my eyes for more than half a century! Dear to my mind and heart, my own mountains! And I feel with delight that I have done a great deal for you, my beloved mountains! All the joy that you have given me, all that I have perceived in your ravines and on your summits, I have compressed into one great idea - and now we have a Zapovednik!"

Christopher Shaposhnikov,
Founder of Kavkazsky Zapovednik (1928)

Photo © 1997 Robert Glenn Ketchum

Zapovednik Images
Zapovednik Facts
Articles featuring this nature reserve in Russian Conservation News journal

Articles featuring this nature reserve in Russian Conservation News journal:

Images of Kavkazsky Zapovednik
Click on each photo to see a large version.


© 2004 Igor Shpilenok

European red deer often fall prey to wolves in the zapovednik.

© 2004 Igor Shpilenok

The Great Caucasus Range offers endless breathtaking views

© 2004 Igor Shpilenok

Rangers patrol the mountains on horseback

© 2004 Igor Shpilenok

Wolves are common predators in the zapovednik

© 1997 Robert Glenn Ketchum

An alpine meadow blossoms with wildflowers in summer in the Adegeya section of the preserve.


© 1997 Robert Glenn Ketchum

Bolshoi T'chatch Mountain looms in the distance above the Northern Caucasus Range.

Wild bison

© 2005 Sergei Trepet

Wild bison ascend a snowy slope. The animals were reintroduced here in the 1960s.

© 1997 Robert Glenn Ketchum

Kavkazsky Zapovednik boasts five species of maple, an unusually high number for Russia. Here, old growth maples are found at a surprisingly high elevation - nearly 9,000 feet.

Zapovednik Facts:


Abundant vegetation provides forage for many ungulates (hoofed animals): tur (Capra), maral (Cervus elaphus maral), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), wild boar (Sus scrofa), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and the reintroduced Caucasian bison, a subspecies of the European bison (Bison bonasus). The ungulates, in turn, support a diversity of large carnivores such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), and lynx (Felix lynx). Overall, the Zapovednik has 59 mammal species and 192 bird species. Large raptors include bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), griffon vulture (Gypus fulvus) and golden eagle (Aquila chysaetus).


The reserve has rich and diverse vegetation; about 1500 species of vascular plants have been recorded here, about 20 percent of which are endemic to the region. Among relics from the Tertiary geological period, one can find Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana), which can reach 60 meters, Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis), endemic spruce species (Picea spp.), gigantic chestnuts (Castanea spp.), among others. Old growth groves of rare yew (Taxus baccata) and box trees (Buxus colchica) are preserved in a section of the reserve along the Black Sea coast. Alpine meadows are rich in plants of the Umbelliferae and Compositae families. Thirty-two species of plants are listed as rare and endangered in the Russian Red Book.

Geographical Features

Kavkazsky Zapovednik is located on the Main and Front Caucasian Ridges, with an area of 2634.8 km2, most of which are forested lands. The Zapovednik consists of two units: a mountainous part of 2630 km2, and the Khosta yew-box grove of 301 ha. Mountain ridges define the specifics of the Zapovedniki's relief; the elevations of the mountains increase from west to east, rising above the treeline in the east.

The highest peaks here are Tchugush (3,240 m) and Smidovich Peak (3,360 m above sea level). Climate varies from subtropical to severe and arctic-like in the highlands. Numerous brooks and streams of glacial origin created the complex, rugged relief with high cliffs and deep ravines and troughs.

Conservation Status

No other place in Europe protects wilderness on a scale equal to that in the Caucasus region, and Kavkazsky Zapovednik plays an important part in conserving the region's flora and fauna.

However, this reserve is threatened by a number of factors which threaten its ecological integrity. For example, poaching inside the reserve and unsustainable game management in the region have led to a drastic decline in wildlife numbers. Populations of deer and chamois have declined by 50 percent, and Caucasian tur by 60 percent. The Adygeya bison population is on the verge of extinction: since 1992 the numbers have dropped from 368 individuals to 66. Poaching by officials has become a regular violation. However, because they are poorly equipped - typically without reliable means of communication and transportation - the ZapovednikÌs rangers are unable to effectively stop these poachers.

Fragmentation of the rich forests around the reserve, particularly in the Adygeya region, also threatens the wildlife of the reserve. Along its borders, large scale commercial timber harvesting is now occurring in undisturbed tracts of the most valuable tree species: chestnut, yew and box.

The use of technology and the lack of environmental law enforcement have permitted the timber enterprises to cause great damage to the ecosystem including destruction of the soil cover, significant damage to young trees and a large amount of waste.


Krever, V., N. Zazanashvili, H. Jungius, L. Williams and D. Petelin. Biodiversity of the Caucasus Ecoregion. WWF Russian Programme Office, Moscow, 2001 (English).

Sokolov, V.E., and E.E. Syroechkovsky (eds.). Zapovedniks of the USSR: Zapovedniks of the Caucasus. Mysl Publishers, Moscow, 1990 (Russian).

Zabelina, N.M, L.S. Isaeva-Petrova, and L.V. Kuleshova. Zapovedniks and National Parks of Russia. Logata. Moscow, 1998 (Russian and English).

Sergei Trepet is a scientist at the zapovednik's Maikop division.


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