Biodiversity of Vashlovani Protected Area
In Vashlovani Protected Area, due to various natural impacts, the diverse arid landscape was formed on a small territory. These are: desert, semidesert, steppe, arid sparse forests and deciduous forest zones.
Besides above listed zones there are- floodplain forests, cliff xerophytes, foothill paliurus forests and loam plants.
Besides 600 species of plants described in the protected area 28 are Caucasian and 5 Georgian endemic.
There are about 700 species of plants in Vashlovani, among them there are: diversity of orchids ( 7 species), Georgian iris (Iris iberica), Eichler tulips (Tulipaeichler), Maiko Peony (Paeoniamaiko), wild grape (Vitissylvestris) and other rare plants.
Vashlovani Protected areas are distinguished by rare pistachio tree (Pistaceamutica) with arid light forests and bluesterm-grass stppes. Foothills are covered with oak and ash groves, mixed with maple and elm. There are also spread: barberry, thistles, tan, caragana and others.
There is Alazani unique floodplain forest and two small bays (Juma and Mijna) inVashlovani Protected area. These bays are the only place where next to the floodplain oaks (Quercuspedunculata), asps (Populusnigra, P. canescens), ash-trees (Fraxinus excelsior) and wild pomegranate (Punicagranatum) wildly grow walnut trees (Juglansregia).
There are important species of fruit tree and vine ancestors: Wild vine (Vitissilvestris G. Gmel.), Quince (Cydoniaoblonga Mill.), pomegranate (Punicagranatum), drum bread (Tritium ferrigineum), cherry (Cerarussilvestris), wild apple (Malusorientalis and others.
From remarkablendemic plants in Vashlovani Protected area are: Eichlertulip (Tulipaeichleri Regel), Georgian iris (Iris ibericaHoffm.), Georgian barberry (Berberisiberica) and Georgian wild pear (PyrusgeorgicaKuthath). From endemic species of Georgia in the National park can be found: regional bellflower (Campanula kachetica), regional sainfon (OnobrychiskacheticaBoiss. et Buhse), steppe peony (Paeoniatenuifolia L.), Sakhokia wild pear (PyrussachokianaKuth.) and others.
Plants of “Red List” of Georgia
13 species of woody plants form the “Red List” of Georgia are represented in VashlovaniProtected area: Georgian maple (Acer ibericum M. Bieb. Ex Willd.), Euphrates Poplar (PopuluseuphraticaOliv.), Walnut (Juglansregia L. ), Pedunculate oak (QuercuspedunculifloraC.Koch), Wild pistachio (PistaciamuticaFisch&Mey ),Sakhikia wild pear (PyrussachokianaKutath.), Demetrii wild pear (Pyrusdemetrii),Black juniper (JuniperusfoetidissimaWilld.), Fruitful juniper (Juniperuspolicarpos), Gorgian oak (Quercetaiberica) and others.
There is a diverse fauna in VashlovaniProtecred area, 62 species of mammals, 135 – birds, 30 – reptiles, 20 – fish and 4 amphibian species are spread here. Invertebrate fauna is poorly studied. There are 8 species of beasts of prey. Fauna is alos rich in bats, including: PamsyMyotis (Myotisemarginatus),Lesser Horseshoe Bat (RhinolopushipposiderosBechtein.), Mehely’s Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophusmehelyi).
There are manu jackals, foxes, rabbits, wolves, lynx, jungle cats, boars, porcupines and even bears.
In terms of ornithology Vashlovani Reserve is very rich. Here can be foud thousand teams of starlings and rose-coloured pastors. There are many other small birds: sparrows, wheatears, Red-goldfinches and finches. In winter you can see little bustards and more rarely Great bustards. From birds of prey in Vashlovani there are Imperial eagles, black vultures, gyps, Marsh harriers and buzzards. There are many partridges. Rarely, but still there can be found a francolin. And in Alazani groves, which are already included in a National Park, there are many pheasants.
In Vashlovani steep clay precipices the colonies of swallowa nest, which is called “ Town of swallows”. There are many water birds – herons, cormorants, teals, wild ducks, red ducks, ospreys, white-tailed eagleS.
In vashlovani fauna reptiles also play an important role. 25 species of reptiles are recorded here. In the territory of National Park you can see Mediterranen turtle, Beber skink, snake-eyed skink, toad and snakes: Asian boa constrictor, Blotched snake, grass snake and viper.
There are about 16 species of fish in Alazani. There are still many catfish, carp, sander, shemaya, river goby, barbell and Caucasian chub.
In Vashlovani territory 700 species of insects are recorded, most of them are butterflies – 109 species.
VAshlovani Protected area is particularly interesting in fossilized fauna. It is possible to see prehistoric fauna in Bear Canyon. In deposite4d layers of exposed rocks it is easy to observe well preserved chitines of sea mollusks. These mollusks are the oldesrhabitants of Vashlovani- to the time when this place was covered by the sea.
In the same Bear Canyon you can meet a reltively “young” prehistoric animal –a fossilized scapula of the southern elephant is protruding from the clay hill.
Animals form the “Red List” of Georgia
35 species from the “Red List” of Georgia inhabit in Vashlovani Protected area, among them 4 species of reptiles, 20 species of birds and 10 species of mammals. From mammals the most notable are: Brwonbear (Ursusarctos), gazelle (Gazellasubgutturosasubgutturosa) and others. It should be noted, that about 6 years ago a photo of ounce (Pantherapardustuliana) was taken by Phot Trap in the protected area, which means that extinct species in Georgia often moved form neighboring Azerbaijan, but in recent years it has not appeared. From reptiles there are: pond (Emys orbicularis) and Mediterranean turtle (Testudograeca). From birds – Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetusfulva), peregrine (Falco peregrinus), vulture (Aegypiusmonachus), little bustard (Tetraxtetrax Linnaeus, 1758) and others.
From the Caucasian endemic animals the widespread species are: Radde’s shrew (Sorexraddei), gree toad (Bufoviridis),common toad (Bufobufo), common tree frog (Hylaarborea), wood frog (Ranaridibunda), gobi (Barbusmursa) and others. In the Caucasian region snake-eyed skink (Ablephoruspannonicus) can be found only in Vashlovani National Park. There also can be found Iran-Anatolian endemic – Transcaucasian hamster (Mesocricetusbrandti). From fish the endemic species is gobi (Barbusmursa).