Fauna of Azerbaijan
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Fauna of Azerbaijan or animal kingdom of Azerbaijan refers to the diversity of various types of animals, which inhabit and populate a defined ground or water area in Azerbaijan.
The first reports on the richness and diversity of animal life in Azerbaijan can be found in travel notes of Eastern travelers. Animal carvings on architectural monuments, ancient rocks and stones survived up to the present times. The first information on the animal kingdom of Azerbaijan was collected during the visits of naturalists to Azerbaijan in the 17th century. Unlike fauna, the concept of animal kingdom covers not only the types of animals, but also the number of individual species.
The symbol of Fauna in Azerbaijan is the Karabakh horse (Azeri: Qarabağ atı) which is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse which can only be found in Azerbaijan. The Karabakh horse has a reputation for its good temper, speed, elegance and intelligence. It is one of the oldest breeds, with ancestry dating to the ancient world. The horse was originally developed in the Azerbaijani Karabakh region in the 5th century and is named after it.
The natural habitat of various types of animals is very different within the country. Some species populate special restricted areas (lakes, parts of mountainous areas) while others are spread throughout the country. For example, passerines can be found anywhere in the territory of Azerbaijan. Protozoa parasites are also registered in all areas of the country, depending on natural habitat of carrier animals (cattle, poultry, etc.). Among mammals, jeyran gazelles populate plain areas, Caucasian goat inhabits the major Caucasus areas, most species of birds can be found in forests, some in water basins. Pest insects occupy different agricultural fields, while others populate defined biotopes only.
A number of natural preserves have been created and the hunting rules were brought into effect for protection of fur and hoofed animals in Azerbaijan.
The animal kingdom of Azerbaijan is very rich, partly due to diversity of its natural complexes.
Some 107 species of mammals have been recorded in Azerbaijan, three of which are unique species. Popular species are Caucasus goats and west-Caucasus moufflons; which inhabit Nakhchivan and western slopes of the major Caucasus in Balakan, Qabala, Zaqatala and Ismayilly regions. Jeyran gazelles are among the rarest and fastest species in Caucasus they can only be found in Shirvan natural preserve, Bendovan and Korchay regions of Azerbaijan. In 2014, 150 gazelles were returned to their historical territories as part of the four-year "Reintroduction of gazelles to their historical habitat areas in Caucasus" project.
The country's fresh water basins and the Caspian Sea account for 97 species of fish of which eight introduced and seven of these have become widespread and over 15 thousand species of invertebrates in Azerbaijan. Most can be found in the Kura River, surrounding lakes, as well as in the Mingechevir reservoir. Most of fish are anadromous or semi-anadromous (the young grow up in salt water and migrate to fresh water to breed after they reach maturity). The most valuable of anadromous fish are salmon, sturgeon, stellate sturgeon and beluga. Aspius, Chalcalburnus and eel are also anadromous fish. Sturgeon meat and caviar are highly valuable. Beside, the water basins of Azerbaijan contain such valuable fish species as bream, sazan, rutilus kutum and others. Such fish species as herring are fished in the Caspian Sea. Due to the construction of a number of hydrotechnical plants on the Kura river after 1959, the regulation of the river water flow, as well as the Caspian water pollution led to the significant reduction in the number of valuable fish species. Three hatcheries (Kuragzi, Alibayramli and Kur experimental sturgeon hatchery) for melioration and fish-farming purposes were launched to restore the fish reserves and to increase the number of fish in species. Azerbaijan's fish-farming establishments and hatcheries account for breeding of 20 million sturgeons, 600 thousand salmons, over 800 thousand. A new hatchery with the capacity of 20 million sturgeons was put in commission in Khyly in 2000. there are over 10,000 different types of fish in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is incredibly rich in avifauna. There are 363 species of birds recorded from about 60 families. Around 40% of the species are settled to Azerbaijan, however 27% of these species over-winter here, and 10% pass through on migration. One of the most inspiring bird species is the golden eagle which inhabits mainly mountainous areas such as Nakhchivan. The golden eagle has been printed on dozens of stamps and cards in Azerbaijan.
Ten species of amphibians from five families are recorded in Azerbaijan. There are 52 species of reptiles found in Azerbaijan. Most of these species are found in semi-desert areas in Shamakhi and Nakhchivan. Few are found in other lowlands or mountainous areas. In 1937, members of the Opilio lepidus species of harvestman were sited in the country.
- Goy-Gol State Reserve
- Gyzylaghadj State Reserve
- Zagatala State Reserve
- Zakatala State Reserve
- Turyanchay State Reserve
- Pirgulu State Reserve
- Shirvan State Reserve
- Besitchay State Reserve
- Qarayazy State Reserve
- Ismayilly State Reserve
- Qaragol State Reserve
- Ilisu State Reserve
- Shahbuz State Reserve
- Eldar pine-tree State Reserve
- paralumun.com Karabakh Horse
- Nazarli, Amina. "Population of gazelles increasing in Azerbaijan". www.azernews.az. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Nataly Y. Snegovaya (2007). "Two New Harvestman Species from Lenkoran, Azerbaijan (Arachnida: Opiliones: Phalangiidae)" (PDF). Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society 14 (2): 88–92.