About Fauna and Flora – Vashlovani National Park

Vashlovani National Park (Georgian: ვაშლოვანის ეროვნული პარკი) is located in south-east Georgia on the border with Azerbaijan.

Vashlovani

The semi–arid landscape is more like Africa than Europe and has a long history of land use by humans. Sheep farming is the key local livelihood and sheep are migrated annually by Tushetian shepherds between the mountains of Tusheti and their winter pastures, as they have for centuries.

The National Park contains a collection of species unique in Eurasia and is home to the Caucasian Leopard, grey wolf, brown bear, striped hyena, Eurasian lynx, and golden jackal and supports a vibrant community of birds of prey.

vashlovani bird of prey

The Caucasian Leopard (also called Persian Leopard) 

The Caucasian Leopard is the rarest species in the Caucasus, celebrated in many local poems, fairy tales and songs.

It was thought to be extinct in Georgia but in the winter of 2003, zoologists found footprints of a leopard in Vashlovani National Park and later photographed one young male several times. Leopards feed on anything they can hunt, including young wild boar, porcupines, hare, and wolf.

Leopard signs have also been found at the headwaters of the Andi Koisu and Assa rivers in Tusheti, bordering Dagestan.

Over the last 60 years, there have been several sightings of leopards around the Tbilisi area and in the Shida Kartli province to the northwest of the capital.

Brown Bears

Existence of Brown Bears in a semi-desert ecosystem may seem unusual but the bushes and ravines provide good shelter and food, such as the fruits of Pistachio and Junipers.

Striped Hyena

The Striped Hyena used to be a regular inhabitant and scientists are hoping to discover signs that this hyena still roams the reserve.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Nirmal Dulal

Vashlovani National Park is (or was) the only place in Georgia where you could find this animal.

Eurasian Lynx

The Eurasian lynx is the third largest predator in Europe after the brown bear and the wolf.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons – mpiet (http://www.mindbox.at/gallery/)

It is present in Vashlovani National Park but is very shy and nearly impossible to see and observe.

Eurasian Wolf

In the Alesilebi and Shiraki valleys of the National Park, wolves traverse the land in search of food.

The Eurasian Wolf (also called the European Wolf) is a subspecies of the gray wolf and tends to have longer, more highly placed ears, a narrower head, more slender loins and coarser, tawnier coloured fur.

Lebetine Viper

This large snake lives in the Shiraki-Eldari and Ivris Plateaus within the National Park.

Its venom is highly poisonous and widely feared. One positive result is that poaching and hunting in these places has been largely confined to the seasons when the snakes are dormant, reducing human impact in the area. In Georgia, very few people have been killed by the Lebetine Viper. However, hunting dogs have not been as lucky, often dying from a bite to their head.

The Black Vulture (also known as the Cinereous Vulture)

The Eurasian Black Vulture is believed to be the largest true bird of prey in the world.

Although the semi-dry deserts of Georgia are not heavily populated with people, intense grazing poses threats to the animals’ habitats and thus to their survival. The Georgian government created The National Park of Vashlovani just in time.

Hopefully the rare and beautiful animals that live here will survive and thrive, following the establishment of the park and the enforcement of its conservation policies.

Recommended seasons for visiting are Spring (for birdwatching) and Autumn (perfect temperatures & colours). Even during Winter the day temperatures can reach 20 Degrees Celsius and snowfall is very rare.

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Comments
18 Responses to “About Fauna and Flora – Vashlovani National Park”
  1. Wonderful photos! I really like the lynx.

  2. Chancy and Mumsy says:

    Beautiful wildlife. The hyena’s head made me think of a bat. :) I too hope that these beautiful critters will survive now that the park has been established. It looks like a very nice place for them. Hugs

  3. Shary Hover says:

    Vashlovani National Park looks like a beautiful place. I’m so glad that forward-thinking people are working to protect these animals and their habitat.

  4. Amazing wildlife!! The terrain is unbelievable, so different from previous posts where everything is more mountainous, green and lush.

  5. That leopard is just gorgeous. I’m glad it’s not extinct!

  6. Wonderful, wonderful!!! All these animals I never knew existed! Thank you for this fascinating, informative post.

  7. Dianda says:

    Those brown bears look so magnificent!

  8. They are Dianda and you would not expect to see them in that type of environment.

  9. What a wonderful animal wildlife refuge! Way to go Georgia in preserving this land and these species… now that Brown Bear looks like a toughie… wow!

  10. eripanwkevin says:

    Very interesting to look at thses animals photos as we haven’t seen them here! So sad to hear that hunting dogs are often bitten by the Lebetine Viper….and funny to read that the brown bears love the fruits of Pistachio and Junipers! :)

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