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Prioksko-Terrasniy Nature Reserve: Bisons, Beavers and Tawny Owls in their Natural State, Unique Flora of Oka
May 28, 2009 16:05

The national biosphere reserve Prioksko-Terrasniy is situated in the south of the Moscow Region in 12 km from the city of Serpukhov and next to Danki settlement. Leaping ahead, the species living in the reserve are interesting in every way, but the location of such an ecosystem in the Moscow Region is really unusual. The areas of steppe vegetation surrounded by pine forests are the core of reservation. Such flora is very unusual for the Moscow Region, because the steppe zone lies far to the south from it. It is called “Doly”.


The biosphere reserve was created in June, 1945. Its area reaches 4, 9 thousand hectares, and 92 per cent of it is covered with forests. Since 1979 the reserve has been under the aegis of UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. In 1983 a baseline monitoring station began functioning in it. The main directions of its work are meteorology and monitoring of polluting substances, getting to the territory of the reserve by air and fall-out.


 There is a great variety of species introduced in the Prioksko-Terrasniy reserve. There are many rare species of plants, insects, mammals and birds, among them beavers, sika deer (Cervus nippon), Tawny Owls and certainly European bisons. The population of these rare animals was kept mainly thanks to the Bison Farm created in the reserve in 1948. This farm is a very popular excursion venue because visitors can see animals in close vicinity to themselves and in natural conditions. The territory of the farm is divided into enclosures connected with corridors. In each enclosure there lives a bison family consisting of one male animal and 4 or 5 females with calves. After the calves reach the age of one year they are combined into a herd and released into the forest. It happens in May. For safety's sake the farm is surrounded with a gauze, so the tourists can see bisons with safety. Besides European bisons, there is a herd of American ones in the reserve.


 Flora of the reserve includes steppe, taiga, pine woods and oakery elements. The southern part of the territory is occupied with steppe flora. This interesting fact was noted by the scientists long ago. The real steppe zone lies 150-600 km south from this place. The explanations were very different and sometimes strange. According to one opinion, the elements of the steppe vegetation were brought by nomads, together with hay on their carts (there were active contacts of various character between the Russians and the nomads of the Steppe in the middle Ages). The scientists are inclined to explain this phenomenon with the direction of the valley and high concentration of lime in the Oka sands. The Oka is a big river flowing close to the reserve.


The reserve develops outreach activities and offers excursions taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. It is part of the reserve's mission, which includes not only scientific activities but social ones as well.

How to get from Moscow

1. By public transport

 The commuter train from Kursky station to the station “Serpukhov”. It takes you 2 hours. The best choice would be trains leaving Moscow from 7.45 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. It saves you from long waiting for the bus. There are some buses having the bus-stop “Zapovednik”: 25 (to Danki), 31 (Turovo), 41 (Zibrovo). The bus usually takes 35 min. The information office is situated in 200 m from the bus stop, at the end of Danki settlement.

2. By car

Follow Simferopolskoe high road, on the 98th km an arrow to Danki settlement and Prioksko-Terrasniy nature reserve.



Yulia Buzykina


Tags: Ecotourism Russian Nature Reserves    

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