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The Shikahogh State Reserve

The Shikahogh Reserve is situated in the nortern slopes of the Meghri ridge that protects the area from hot air masses from the Iranian Plateau, while the high Zangezur range stretches from north to south and slows humid air from the Caspian Sea. Such a system of mountain ranges and ridges creates a wide diversity of climate conditions. Here, as elsewhere in the mountains of the Southern Caucasus each small gorge has its own special microclimate with peculiar fauna. The general climate here is warm and humid. In 10 000 hectares 1074 species of plants can be found. It is the only reserve where gorgeous primreview forests with rare relict ferns have survived since the dinosaur era, and where Ophioglossum vulgatum and Pteridium tauricum are preserved.

The Reserve is a sanctuary for many disappearing and endemic species like Galanthus transcaucasicus, G.artjuschenkoae, Tulipa confusa, Pyrus zangezura, Symphyandra zangezura, Hypericum Eleonorae. There were over twenty types of local plants included in the Red Books of Armenia and former Soviet Union.



    
Thanks to the mild climate and numerous close gorges not only single representatives, but whole communities and islands of tertiary flora have survived here such as yew grove (Taxus baccata), the only beech grove in Southern Armenia as well as ivy, persimmon, plane and walnut, Fagus orientalis, Hedera helix, Diospyrus caucasicus, Platanus orientalis, Juglans regia, Periploca graeca etc. It is also possible to find Castanea sativa, Zelcova carpinifolia. At lower altitudes there are thin forests of Araxes oak, pomegranates and maples (Quercus araxina, Paliurus spina-christis, Celtis glabratas, Punica granatums, Acer ibericums).

The main part of the reserve is occupied by the leaf trees - generally oak and oak/hornbeam forests - occupy the middle area of the vegetation belt at altitudes of 1000-2200m above the sea.

At the altitudes of 2200-2400m highland oak creates thin forests, change into sub-alpian meadows with high grass and byriads of blossoming bluebells and orchids at higher elevations. These meadows are especially beautiful when the endemic Tulipa confusa - lemon yellow, deep pink, and red - the unique tulip with a tender lemon scent, is in full blossom. At the highest altitudes of ridges small multi-coloured carpets of alpine meadows are scattered.

In the reserve there are Levantine and Orsinis vipers, sand boa, collared dwarf and southern flowered snakes, Slender racer, golden grass and Snider's skinks.

    
The Reserve is home to brown bear, wild boar, roedeer, wolf , beech and pine martens and porcupine. Occasionally one can find bobcat, Primary-Asian leopard, Bezoarian goat or wild sheep (Armenian mouflon).

Thanks to such diversity of biotopes the fauna of birds is also richly presented: Black and Griffon Vultures, Hoopoe, Common and Black Redstarts, Turtle Dove, Blackcap, Tawny and Scops Owls, Green Woodpecker etc.

There are numerous historical monuments everywhere on the territory of the reserve - nearby the roads, at the rocky slopes, and in the deep canyon Iron Age tombs, ancient fortresses, shrines, bridges, medieval churches and monasteries are situated.





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