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July 31, 2015 01:27


Bubonitsy could be called an extinct village: already in 1985 there were only two permanent residents among all twenty-two houses – an old man and an old woman, a brother and a sister.

There were no jobs in the vicinity, the distance to the nearest town of Toropets made up 40 km through impassable roads. This absolute wilderness with free houses for accommodation was necessary to the biologists Pazhetnovs who were engaged in the study of bears in their natural habitatt and the rehabilitation of orphaned bear cubs. Valentin and Svetlana Pazhetnovs were looking for a quiet place and found it in Bubonitsy.

A deserted village turned into a base of the biological station “Clean Forest”. Now a wooden plaque with painted figures of bears, the name and the date of the village foundation – 1540 – is installed at the entrance to Bubonitsy.

The history of this “neck of the woods” is even longer – the village was built in XVI century on the developed place, on the trade route “From the Vikings to the Greeks”. There are many archaeological monuments in the neighborhood: ancient settlements, burial mounds; and the Biological Station organizes tours of them.

Long time ago the name of the village was written as “Bobonichi”, and the current name does not even have a single pronunciation - the stress in the word is put in different ways. Since the permanent residents of the village are now presented by the employees of the biological station, let us take their version of stress as normal one: on the second syllable, Bu’bonitsy. In Russian language the sound of the word resembles that of a bell, according to Valentin Sergeevich Pazhetnov.

Modern Bubonitsy can be considered a family village, because three generations of Pazhetnovs live and work here, all of them being qualified biologists. For example, the son-in-law of Pazhetnovs, Vladimir Bologov studies the behavior of wolves; his home is the first one in the village. Only one person in Bubonitsy has norelation to the biological station - a relative of those very last natives of the village.

Three major tour routes are developed. Firstly, the “Ecotrail” - two kilometers of way through the woods, past the high bog with a very beautiful lake in the centre. You can see all samples of typical nature and plants of Central Russia in two hours. The “Zoological” route is an excursion to a beaver colony. Along the way you will be told about the life and habits of beavers, shown their huts. The hosts of these huts are also likely to show themselves. The “Historical and Archaeological” route is an excursion to numerous archaeological monuments (from III to XII century) which are in the vicinity of Bubonitsy. Settlements, mounds, hills - these places were located at the ancient trade route “From the Vikings to the Greeks”.

In addition, an ecological school “Bear Cubs” is working at the centre for the rescue of orphaned bear cubs – it is something like a summer camp with an ecological focus: study of local nature mixed with open-air recreation. Children live in tents and study the world with the help of the scientists of the biological station. All costs are paid by IFAW.

The biological station “Chisty Les” (“Clean Forest”)

The biological station “Chisty Les” (“Clean Forest”) in the village of Bubonitsy is a private project, not a public one. The biologists Valentin and Svetlana Pazhetnovs have been engaged in dealing with bears on modest salaries of employees of the Central Forest Reserve of Tver Oblast since 1985, until they received the recognition and support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

First of all, they received the financial aid that helped to create a specialized Bears Rescue Centre at the biological station. To be more precise, it is meant for the rescue of the orphaned bear cubs. Bears made the biological station famous, now it also supports life in the abandoned village.

The centre’s goal is truly unique - rehabilitating and returning the bear cubs to the wild nature. The technique was developed by Valentin Sergeevich Pazhetnov who has been engaged in dealing with bears for forty years and saved a sufficient number of helpless cubs from death when they were left without a mother in their childhood for various reasons. The main difficulty is not to tame the animals, but on the contrary, to maintain their natural wild state.

Broadly speaking, a man shouldn’t become a “bear’s friend”. Cubs aged between one day and three months are brought to Bubonitsy from all over Russia: from Yaroslavl, Novgorod, Pskov, Kirov, Smolensk regions, from Karelia. First, they are placed in heated boxes and fed by usual cow’s milk with the addition of infant formulas (formulas raise the percentage of fat contained in milk which is four times greater in female bears than that in cows).

Grown cubs are moving to large cages with an area of one hectare with a den and a veterinary station. This happens in spring, nearly at the same time when she-bears with children go out from the dens in wild nature. So, gradually bear cubs get used to a real forest. They are returned to the wild when they are aged seven months. The animals following bears in their importance have recently been wolves studied by Vladimir Bologov.

One can sign up as a volunteer to the program of wolves’ rehabilitation - contacts can be received from the biological station by phone or e-mail. Biological education is not mandatory, but desirable - otherwise you may be not allowed to work directly with the animals. There are a lot of people wishing to join the program, they come to Bubonitsy from different countries - the Netherlands, France and Germany. The cost of tours and lectures depends on the number of participants. First of all, it is best to contact the director of the biological station - Elvira Pazhetnova (her phone number is indicated on the home page of the official website) and ask all the questions.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Bubonitsy Russian villages    

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