Daurian steppes

Region of the Russian Federation: Zabaikalsky Krai

Site Status: inscribed in the Tentative List of the Russian Federation in 2005

Status of Territories composing the Site: Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, “Tsasucheysky Bor” and “Dolina Dzerena” Federal Sanctuaries (Zakazniks) (674480, Zabaikalsky Krai, Ononsky District, Nizny Tsatsuchey, ul.Komsomolskaya, 76)

The Daurian Steppes are at the juncture of the Mongolian, Russian and Chinese state borders. In 1994, the International Nature Reserve Dauria including the already existing “Daursky” (Russia), “Mongol Daguur” (Mongolia), and “Dalainor” (China) reserves, was established by intergovernmental agreement. The Daursky Nature Reserve (Russia) was created to protect the unique natural complexes of the Torey Lakes (Barun-Torey and Zun-Torey), the largest lakes in the Transbaikal steppes.

The Torey Lakes are remnants of an ancient lake that covered the whole of the Torey-Borzinsky watershed. The lakes have a changeable water regime; level fluctuations being determined mostly by climate: over the last 200-220 years, the lakes have dried and filled many times (four times in the 20th century). This is the habitat of 314 bird and 47 mammal species.

The Torey Lakes are a key ornithological area in Asia, wetlands of international significance, and one of the world’s largest waterfowl and wader flyways. 37 of the reserve bird species are inscribed in the Russian Red Data Book, and 25 in the IUCN Red Data List. Among them are nesting white-napped and Japanese cranes and Siberian and hooded cranes that pasture and fly through here. The rare swan goose is found here and the lakes are the only nesting site for the relic gull in Russia.

Of the reserve’s rare mammals the Russian Red Data Book lists the black-tailed gazelle (its only permanent habitat and fawning ground in Russia), Pallas' cat, Daurian hedgehog and tarbagan (Mongolian marmot).

A distinctive feature is the wide variety of vegetation concentrated in a relatively small area. The “Tsasucheisky Bor” Federal Sanctuary, inside the reserve, has relict forest strips of a unique subspecies of pine – the Krylov pine.

Buryat people inhabit Daurian steppes from immemorial time. The majority of them still follow customs and traditions of their ancestors. The numerous objects of worship witness about that.

Used photos © G.Shalikov.