Lena Lebedeva-Hooft (lenaswan) wrote,
Lena Lebedeva-Hooft

76, Tuva, my new love! Part 2

As promised: continued Tuva story. Press link in Russian - all in LJ-cut further in English!

Простите что опять на английском. Фотки все кликабельны.

These are photos and events of 27-28 May in the surroundings of Erzin, south of Tuva on the border of Mongolia. As said in part one, main aim of the entire travel was to make a first check for areas and negotiations with local people for the idea to bring back Mongolian Gazelle, or Dzeren (по-русскидзерен), to the southern Tuva steppes where there were thousands of these wild grazers in the beginning of XIXth century; later they vanished due to mass killer-style game-hunting of CPSU bosses but also as a result of railway construction in Mongolia that separated Daurian herds from migrating in to the Altai range.

The morning of 27th May started at the shore of transboundary Tore-Khol lake, and here on the photo one can see the poles of the border between Russia and Mongolia. Remarkably, our car was immediately traced by the boundary service, and it was all a very prompt and very polite surprise – we had all proper papers with us, so it was more of explanation why we are here and where we will travel in the coming two days if also in the border zone.

Area 1 on the two next photos looked to our pasture specialists rather unacceptable as there were lots of Stipa grasses (по-русскиковыли), which – if dominant – are considered rather bad for grazers. Also the area looked rather uniform, while we realized from our Daurian colleagues that a shelter (like groups of rocks) is a must – there animals will be able to find shelter in windy and rainy weather when already placed semi-wild in the large ca. 5000 ha enclosure.

Thus we drove to another potential site, spotting g on the way just aside the road a cute nest of Upland Buzard Buteo hemilasius (по русскимохноногий курганник), and certainly approached shortly to take photos, as with such chicks and in such good weather it was certainly of no problem.

Driving further tried to approach most famous Shara-Nuur lake – famous among ornithologists for its fantastic birding opportunities…

But got stuck in the bog, and decided to skip birding for the sake of more time at the next potential Dzeren site. It is located north of Yamaalyg cluster of the Ubsunur Nature Reserve, and for various reasons looked for us as almost perfect! From the vicinity of Yamaalyg rock itself a good view opens towards some smaller rocks, and these smaller rocks (still high enough when close by) look as ideal shelter. Specialists on pastures (besides Chaizu we invited her teacher, well known Professor Svetlana Kurbatskaya, who has multi-year data of pastures vegetation dynamics in the south of Tuva). Next three photos are from this very good site.

There is an additional value, that in winter there are staging sites of No.1 horse breeder of Tuva, Sergey Ynaalai (see photo in Part 1), and he himself and several other herders we visited see all the benefits that Dzeren will be brought back. Their sons might even get very responsible jobs of Dzeren wardens! This is how one of the now abandoned winter staging sites looked, and the next photo – is a great friend of many scientists and travelers going to the south of Tuva. It was for Chaizu that we visited Bair and his family, bringing newspapers and some vegetables and other non-local food, and it was so great to observe how people remember and care for each other and how glad they are to meet again.

The trip continued, and again by unplanned coincidence another mental value of this site emerged to us, rather outsiders (while Chaizu and Svetlana are almost locals). Close to the site which we considered perfect for Dzeren there is another group of rocks where three years ago the ashes of Professor Victor Bugrovsky were blown upon his last wish. Here all his colleagues and students try to come, and lay respect to the memory of this fantastic person, who initiated the Uvs-Nuur Natural Experiment and established also the Ubsunur International Biosphere Research Center.

That was 27th, which we hoped to finalize at the Ak-Khairakan mount foothills. This mountain is kind of sacred, and for this reason it is not allowed to hunt / shoot there, and a group of Ibexes remain wandering in the hills and coming to water once a day, usually early morning. Formerly they were coming at the upstream of this sacred spring, Arzhaan (where all the kadaks are now seen on the photos), but the seemed to be almost no water in the springs now and Ibexes were on the other side of the hill. Ak-Khairakan, which means “white mountain”, without water did not seem such a nice shelter for us, and we thus accepted the idea of Vladislav Kanzai, the Director of Ubsunur reserve, to drive around and a bit higher up to the mountains to his real real homeland, the area where he was born and grew up.

There we camped in the tents (not seen on the photos), and there I had the great chance of birding at dawn when all the team was still sleeping. Hm, no good photos (too early – too dark), but instead some nice photos of the Larch needles carpet on the forest road, and some Anemones Pulsatilla flavescens (hope my botanical identification is right).

This is the view of the area from the hill – fantastic perspective! Imagine, that Vladislav as a child could go up and see such tremendous landscape daily or at least weekly… No wonder why coming now here from Kyzyl brought a lot of lyric memories. And I actually added to these – by loosing my little golden Orthodox cross in the grass or just in the stream when the chain broke during morning swim in the brook… Strange coincidence indeed.

Passing through surroundings of Erzin (again another view, now with cattle)...

...we then drove to another potential Dzeren site, lobbied rather actively by the reserve staff. This is also close to the border with Mongolia, and added value of the site is that this is in the vicinity of the famous Kezhege Rocks. Famous because of ancient traditions, and here also it is not allowed not even to shoot, but even to break twigs of plants, so sacred the place is. I was rather in doubt of whether to take pictures or not, but then accepted that I do it with good will and with good intention, and if you see these pictures you will also pray for good for these wishes of all kinds of people to come true. By this the soul of Kezhege will be only stronger, supported by all good-will people who read about this.

By coming and bringing gifts and various things to here, people ask their dreams to come true. They ask for money and for horses, for cars and just for food, for fertility and for eternal beauty… Let them all have their dreams come true.

From the pictures at Kezhege one can see also a number of smaller rocks around – and in principle this can indeed be a site No.2, although there the added benefits from local people support remained unclear to me. But this will be decided further by our absolutely fantastic Tuva leaders with advise from the other two experts on Dzeren, Anna from Moscow and Vadim from Dauria (they will be there end of July).

The river on the photo separates Russia and Mongolia, and in fact the border winds from one bank to another. Actually the forest on the opposite side is already Mongolia. We could even swim, but decided not to alert the very positively cooperative boundary service especially on the Day of the Boundary Officer celebrated in Russia.

Finally visited on the way to Kyzyl another spectacular area, located on the old road from Kyzyl to Erzin, which is currently hardly used at all. This is the “Dzeren Pass” in the mountains, and from the pass – the view of entire Ubsunur Lowland with all the rocks, the Erzin river, perspective of Yamaalyg in the far distance…

Tuva is where my heart stays.

You will feel the same as soon as you see this area!!!

Tags: Буддизм * Buddhism, Горы * Mountains, Животные * Animals, Поездки * Travel, Полезное для ООПТ * Useful for PAs, Природа вообще * Nature General, Птицы * Birds, Россия * Russia, Сибирь * Siberia, Тува * Tyva Republic, Фото мои * Photos My Own, Хорошее душевное * Good for soul
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