Southern Kamchatka Nature Park (Yuzhno-Kamchatsky Zakaznik), Russia


The state natural reserve of federal significance "Yuzhno-Kamchatsky" named after TI Shpilenko is located in the south of Kamchatka on the territories of the Ust-Bolsheretsky and Elizovsky municipal districts of the Kamchatka Territory. It was created on April 8, 1983. Since its inception, it has been under the management of the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve. The reserve is located in the southern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula and includes the islands of Gavryushin Kamen and Utashud. The total area is 322 thousand hectares, including a three-mile adjacent sea area.

The South Kamchatka Federal Reserve is included in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List in the nomination "Volcanoes of Kamchatka".



The southern tip of Kamchatka was declared a nature reserve at the end of the 19th century. Since 1882, the Asachinsky reserve has existed here, and on Cape Lopatka, which today is one of the unique natural objects of the South Kamchatka reserve, beaver rookeries have been protected since 1892. In 1927, by a resolution of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR, the state reserve "Beaver rookeries at Cape Lopatki" was approved. The alien Cossacks who mastered the new lands rich in furs of the Russian Empire called otters - sea animals from the weasel family with very beautiful, thick and warm fur - beavers. It was them who needed to be saved from complete destruction. To protect the reserve from 1928 to 1932, there was a cordon, which was later abolished. Thanks to the efforts of the regional environmental organizations of Kamchatka and with the active support of the Main Directorate of Hunting Economy and Reserves under the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR, the South Kamchatka Republican Zoological Sanctuary was created by the decision of the executive committee of the Kamchatka Regional Council of People's Deputies dated 11.04.75 8-41 and organized in 1982 on the territory of Yelizovsky and Ust-Bolsheretsky districts, an area of ​​247 thousand hectares.

Today, in the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve, not only sea otters are protected, but also the natural complexes of the South of Kamchatka, its landscape and biological diversity.



Almost all reservoirs on the territory of the reserve are spawning grounds for Pacific salmon: pink salmon, chum salmon, coho salmon, as well as kundzha, char. Chinook salmon also enter the Ozernaya River in small numbers. Lake Kurilskoe is the largest sockeye salmon spawning ground in Asia. The marine ichthyofauna is typical for the shallow coastal waters of South Kamchatka. Amphibians are represented by the Siberian salamander. There are no land reptiles. But in the waters near Cape Lopatka, a leatherback turtle was caught.

The avifauna of the reserve is peculiar. The migratory routes of many bird species run over its territory. In autumn, birds seem to "flock" here from the eastern and western coasts of Kamchatka, and in spring, it is here that the flow of migrants flying north along the Kuril Islands is divided into two channels that go around the Kamchatka Peninsula from the west (along the Okhotsk coast) and from the east (along the Pacific coast). The avifauna inventory is still incomplete. Over 170 species have been identified, of which about 100 are nesting. 36 species and subspecies are included in the Red Book of Kamchatka, 17 - in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.

The appearance of the avifauna quite fully reflects the composition of the Kamchatka Peninsula as a whole. But some of the migrants are species that nest outside the region or even on the North American mainland. Up to 10 pairs of Steller's sea eagles, up to 12 pairs of peregrine falcons nest within the boundaries of the reserve. More than 50 colonial seabird settlements are concentrated here. Gyrfalcons winter in the reserve, and along the sea coasts thousands of anseriformes, gulls and auks gather for the winter: the largest concentrations of waterfowl are located in the First Kuril Strait, which separates Cape Lopatka and Shumshu Island.

The mammalian fauna includes 44 species, of which 13 are listed in the Red Book of Kamchatka, 7 - in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. Predominantly marine mammals are classified as rare. Sable, wolverine, ermine mink are common in the reserve. There are numerous bears (1000 individuals - the largest protected group), sea otters, seals, foxes in some places, wolves and lynxes, and American mink. On the slopes of the seaside terraces (Cape Sivuchiy and the oceanic coast), colonies of Kamchatka marmot are not uncommon. In volcanic areas, gophers and pikas are common. Of great value is the coastal population of the bighorn sheep, one of the few that survived on the peninsula. Unfortunately, like in many parts of Kamchatka, reindeer are almost never seen in the reserve.

The group of marine mammals is diverse: whales are not uncommon near the coast of the reserve: gray whales, minke whales, blue whales, fin whales and sei whales were noted. Among dolphins, killer whales and white-winged porpoises are most often observed. Pinnipeds, including hundreds of sea lions, are found on rocky promontories, reefs and islands. Sea otters form large clusters near the coast - about 1.5–2 thousand individuals keep within the boundaries of the reserve. The South Kamchatka grouping of sea otters is a single whole with the North Kuril one.


Flora and vegetation

The flora of the reserve includes 438 species of vascular plants from 212 genera, 109 families. The vegetation of the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve is influenced by mountainous relief, a developed river network, active volcanism, and a cool and humid climate. Here the distribution limit of many Kamchatka species passes; on the territory of the reserve there are species characteristic of the Kuril Islands: Saussurea riederi, enchanting peracarp (Regacarpa circaeoides), Rieder's bathing house (Trollius riederanus), Shamisson's bell Thermopsis lupinoides), Steller's Veronica (Veronica stellerti) and a number of others. 7 species of flora of the reserve belong to the category of rare and protected species of the Kamchatka Territory. The largest areas are occupied by alder and cedar elfin trees, mountain tundra. There are areas of bogs, floodplain and stone birch forests, various meadows.


Unique natural sites

Kuril Lake is the deepest (316 m) fresh water body of the Kamchatka Territory, Asia's largest spawning ground for valuable salmon - sockeye salmon. Every year up to 2 million fish enter the lake for spawning.

Cape Lopatka - the southern tip of Kamchatka, stretches for 25 km with a width of 2 to 7 km. Its surface is largely swampy and is distinguished by an abundance of tundra lakes. The scapula acquires special significance during periods of bird migration. In terms of density and intensity, the autumn flow of migrants through the cape is unmatched in the Far East region. On peak days, during daylight hours, from 9 to 110 thousand individuals of land birds fly here.

Utashud is a small rocky island devoid of tree and shrub vegetation in the Vestnik Pacific Bay 4 kilometers from the coast. These are adjacent islets, two of which are connected at high tide, and the third on such days can be reached on foot in shallow water. The coast is decorated with pointed kekuras 153 and 183 meters high. Utashud is bordered by a reef, in places densely overgrown with seaweed. On the island there is a large concentration of sea otters, there are reproductive rookeries of seals and anthurs, and in the spring-summer period sea lions come here. Colonies of 10 species of seabirds with a total number of more than 22 thousand pairs are concentrated on Utashud, including one of the largest settlements of Pacific gulls in Kamchatka (4 thousand pairs) and a colony of hatchets (10 thousand pairs).

Ilyinsky volcano is one of the youngest active volcanoes in Kamchatka with a regular conical structure 1578 m high. The slopes and foot of the volcano are covered with powerful pumice fields. The only eruption in historical time occurred in 1901.

Volcano Kambalny is the southernmost active volcano in Kamchatka, located off the coast of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk and closing the meridional Volcanic Ridge. It is a cone-shaped stratovolcano 2161 m above sea level. On March 25, 2017, for the first time in the history of observations, the Kambalny eruption began. The volcano threw a column of ash to a height of 5–6 kilometers, the ash plume stretched for several hundred kilometers in the southwest direction. According to tephrochronologists, a strong eruption of the volcano last occurred 600 years ago, there is information about its increased activity about 250 years ago.

Kutkhiny Baty is a natural monument, a bizarre outcropping of pumice stones 4 kilometers from the source of the Ozernaya River (Kuril Lake). According to legend, these are boats (similar to dugouts or Indian pies), once put by the wise raven Kutkh for drying, and forgotten by him on the shore. For the indigenous people of Kamchatka, the Itelmen, the main god is the raven Kutkh, and the bat is a long boat.