The notorious Caucasus, including Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and parts of Iran, Turkey and Russia, is a home for anticipating wildlife with enormous number of endemism, which makes it one of the world’s richest and important biodiversity hotspots.
Its auspicious location at the biological cross boards between the Black and Caspian Seas creates an amazing diversity of Fauna and Flora from the Central and Northern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, including high proportion of species found nowhere else in the world. Surprisingly, such relatively small area composes up to 9 climate zones and diversity of natural landscapes and pristine habitats, including, desert and semi-desert, savanna, sub-tropical and swamp forest, high altitude tundra and alpine meadow.
The Caucasus is also one of the world’s significant centers for cultural diversity with its interesting history and ancient traditions, stipulated a lot by rise and fall of empires – from the Romans to Mongols and Persians, the Red Army to the Ottoman Turks that has created a unique cultural mosaic in the Region. This is a place where multitude of ethnic groups, languages and religions cohabit side by side in peace for a millennia.
This undiscovered and unspoiled piece of Caucasus wildlife got all remarkable beauties to make you fall in love in it and stay in your mind for the rest of your life.
The Caucasus is a home for over 6500 species of vascular plants… up to 1600 are endemic to the region, found nowhere else on earth, 9 of which are associated with high mountain ecosystems. Among ancient dominant or co-dominant species, notable relict species include the endemic rhododendrons (Rhododendron caucasicum, Rhododendron ungernii and Rhododendron smirnowii), as well as Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica).
Birds are another and probably major attraction of the Caucasus. Up to 500 species can be observed in the region, with significant proportion of red-listed species, including Caucasian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus), Caucasian Black Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi), Sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), Great Bustard (Otis tarda), Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliacal), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris), White-Fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) and White-Headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and many others.
Worth mentioning that the Caucasus in general and particularly the Black Sea Cost in Batumi is an important corridor for migratory birds, providing miracle of raptor migration… over a million within migration season and up to 100,000 just on a single day.
Mammals are represented by nearly 130 species in the region, over 20 of which are endemics, including several red-listed species, such as West Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasica) and East Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasica cylindricornis), a members of the goat family… Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus) and very rare Gmelin’s Mouflon (Ovis ammon gmelinii), Caucasian Red Deer (Cervus elaphus maral), Goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Caucasian Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra caucasica)… very rare Caucasian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and Caspian Seal (Pusa caspica).
Among up to 90 reptile species, about 20 considered as native endemics, including one of the most notable endemic Caucasian Viper (Vipera kaznokovi). The one can also be found a very interesting lizard species (such as Darevskia dahli and Darevskia armenica), which are parthenogenic, means that there are no males, and females reproduce entirely on their own.
Diversity of Amphibians in the region is relatively low, however a few remarkable species can be found, including Caucasian Salamander (Mertensiella caucasica), an endemic to the West Caucasus of Georgia and Turkey, and Gorgan Salamander (Batrachuperus gorganensis), which is restricted to Shir-Abad Cave, in the northwestern Iran.
Invertebrates and especially insects are quite diverse in the Caucasus… and one can observe many examples of the varied insect life in the uplands, including an endemic butterfly (Parnassius nordmanni) and Rosalia Iongicorn (Rosalia alpina).