The nature reserve extends over approx. 16 100 km² and includes various vegetation zones from the steppe landscape to mixed forests to alpine areas with high mountain vegetation. The highest mountain in the protected region is the Belucha at 4506 m. The Altai Mountains are the habitat of the extremely rare snow leopard.
Golden Mountains of the Altai: Facts
|Official title:||Golden mountains of the Altai in southern Siberia|
|Natural monument:||Nature reserves Altaiskiy (since 1932), east of the Chulyshman river, Katunskiy (since 1991) for the protection of the Katun river, Lake Teletskoe and Mt. Belukha (4506 m), natural monuments protected since 1996, as well as parts of the Ukok plateau; Total area of 16 114.57 km², of which 10 020 km² are under absolute nature protection; about 1500 glaciers over an area of 910 km²; Teletskoe Lake up to 325 m deep with visibility of up to 15.5 m and 1274 smaller freshwater lakes|
|Country:||Russia, Altai Republic|
|Location:||southern Siberia, southeast and southwest of Gorno-Altajsk|
|Meaning:||70% of the Altai flora and habitat of the endangered snow leopard|
|Flora and fauna:||more than 2000 plant species, including 212 species found only here such as Koeleria altaicus; Forest and others with Siberian larch and Siberian fir, as well as alpine mats and tundra; 72 mammal species such as Altai wild sheep, Siberian chipmunk (Burunduk), Mongolian gazelle, reindeer and snow leopard; 315 species of birds such as the imperial eagle and the Altai falcon; also 11 species of reptiles and amphibians|
Wild rivers, melting glaciers and mummies of the high steppe
Nature on our planet is not doing well. Climate change, the consumption of natural resources and the unrestrained destruction of ecosystems worldwide have far-reaching effects on nature and the environment. According to experts, around 40 percent of the 30,000 animal and plant species examined are endangered.
In view of these reports from all over the world, it is not surprising that the environment does not have a strong lobby in the crisis-ridden Russian empire. And as if it were the official confirmation of the deliberate “boycott” of environmental protection, Vladimir Putin had the State Committee on the Environment dissolved as soon as he was President of Russia for the first time. Rather, its tasks have been assigned to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is responsible for raw material deposits and thus more likely for the exploitation of the environment.
According to ehistorylib, ailing submarines driven by nuclear power are still bobbing – or having had accidents – high in the north of Russia, the dumping of radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan by the Russian Navy is just seen as a minor offense, and a large part of the wastewater from the 5 million City of Saint Petersburg continue to flow unexplained into the Baltic Sea. These thoughtless burdens and destruction arouse committed minds: at Greenpeace Russia, the Russian Greens, in the Novosibirsk eco-club or in the All-Russian Union for Nature Conservation. But the number of environmental campaigners is small, too small. It is therefore almost a miracle that the high mountain landscape of southern Siberia has been under protection for decades in order to preserve the flora and fauna of the steppe as well as the subalpine and alpine vegetation zones. Parts of the protected areas are traversed by one of the wildest waters in Russia, the Katun River. It has aroused the interest of the US Global and Light Company for years. This company wanted to dam the river in order to realize a gigantic energy project. So far, committed environmentalists have been able to prevent such a catastrophe for this landscape. However, further adversity threatens from the Altai gas project of the Russian Gazprom group, which is planning a 2800 km pipeline from Siberia via the Altai to China. This would cut through the specially protected Ukok Plateau. The project initially planned for 2012 has been postponed, but so far (early 2013) it has not been abandoned despite numerous protests by the Unesco Commission.
Extensive forest areas consist mainly of Siberian firs and larches, and red flowering rhododendrons can be found in subalpine zones. All kinds of lichens cover the tundra, which covers large parts of the reserve. Altai wild sheep and Mongolian gazelles roam the area, while high above them the majestic imperial eagle spreads its wings and glides along.
The Belukha, the highest mountain in Siberia on the border with Kazakhstan, is a challenge for every alpinist. And initiated come to the Katun and the Chulyshman to hunt over white water in a rubber dinghy. In this remote corner of Russia, however, archaeologists are investigating the underground chamber tombs of the Pasyryk, a semi-nomadic people who inhabited the area from the sixth to the second century BC and who are part of the Scythian culture.
The most important finds of the last few years include two graves there: A 2,400 year old, not yet plundered grave with a female mummy very well preserved thanks to permafrost. The woman who was buried on the 2200 meter high Ukok plateau and who had tattoos with deer motifs was a person of high standing: In addition to the woman’s corpse, a number of sacrificed horses were found. The lady was dressed in silk and wool, which were decorated with golden ornaments. If not “golden mountains” – a unique archaeological treasure had been found here. In 2006 archaeologists from a German-Russian-Mongolian excavation team recovered a Scythian warrior, also in full gear, including grave goods and sacrificial animals.