Before detailing the two eco-break/holidays that we have to offer at the Shirvan and Shahagh National Parks we would like tell you a little of what Azerbaijan as a country has to offer, and the abundance of riches you can expect to enjoy on an eco-holiday with us, in one of two great Azerbaijan national parks.
SHORT INTRODUCTION TO THE FLORA AND FAUNA OF AZERBAIJAN
The Wildlife of Azerbaijan consists of its flora and fauna and their natural habitats. Azerbaijan is also unique in that it includes nine of the world’s key climate types. It is possible within 2 hours driving, starting at the Caspian Sea, to cross into semi-dessert and steppes, deciduous forests, subalpine and alpine meadows and at the end of your travels reach the Nival zone of mountain peaks.
The symbol of fauna in Azerbaijan is the Karabakh horse which is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse which can only be found in Azerbaijan. It is one of the oldest breeds, originally developed in the Karabakh region in the 5th century.
Of the carnivores inhabiting Azerbaijan, none is more charismatic and elusive than the Caucasian Leopard. Last year 5 leopards were captured by camera traps and last winter a breeding pair was also captured on camera.
The natural habitat of various types of animals is very different within the country due to the climatic variances. Some species populate areas particular to their needs (lakes, steppes, parts of mountainous areas etc.) while others are spread throughout the country. Among mammals, jeyran gazelles populate open plain areas as well as roe and red deer; Caucasian goats inhabit the major Caucasus areas and most species of birds can be found in forests and some in water basins
A number of natural preserves have been created and hunting rules brought into effect for the protection of fur and hoofed animals in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has the largest population of different species of mammals in Europe. Some 107 species have been recorded in Azerbaijan, three of which are unique. Popular species are Caucasian goats and west Caucasus mouflons which inhabit Nakhichevan and the western slopes of the Greater Caucasus. Jeyran gazelles are among the rarest and fastest species in the Caucasus but they can only be found in Shirvan State Reserve, Bendovan and Korchay regions of Azerbaijan. European rabbits and hares are widespread in rural areas.
Among Azerbaijan’s insectivores[,there are, the long-eared hedgehog, Levantine mole, Gueldenstaedt's shrew, the bicolored shrew, the transcaucasian water shrew and the Caspian shrew to name but a few.
There are at least 27 different varieties of bat in Azerbaijan ranging from the exotic Mehely’s horseshoe bat and the Whiskered bat to the common pipistrelle. There are a large number of rodents in Azerbaijan. Various varieties of voles, hamsters, gerbils, mice, squirrels, dormice and porcupines are widespread
The carnivore ‘clan’ are also well represented with wolves, raccoons, foxes, jackals, martens, badgers, Eurasian lynx, bear, hyena, Persian leopard, otter and wild cat. Unfortunately, the Caspian Tiger has not been seen recently and it is feared they are now extinct
The country's fresh water basins and the Caspian Sea account for 97 species of fish 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 and sturgeon. Sturgeon meat and caviar are highly valuable. In the early history of Azerbaijan, sturgeon used to be mistaken for a sea monster. Three hatcheries (Kuragzi, Alibayramli and Kur experimental sturgeon hatcheries) were launched to help restore the fish reserves and to increase the number of fish in the species. Azerbaijan's fish-farming establishments and hatcheries account for breeding of 20 million sturgeon. Herring are also fished in the Caspian Sea.
The water basins of Azerbaijan contain other such valuable fish species as bream, sazan, rutilus kutum amongst others.
Azerbaijan is incredible rich in avifauna. There are 363 species of birds recorded from about 60 families. Around 40% of the species are indigenous 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 Nakhichevan. The Golden Eagle has been printed on dozens of stamps and cards in Azerbaijan.
Ten species of amphibians from five families are found in Azerbaijan as well as 52 species of reptiles. Most of these species inhabit the semi-desert areas in Shamakhi and Nakhichevan. Few are found in other lowlands or mountainous areas.
The Azeri Nabran Forest has some of the oldest trees in the world - the average age is 500 years. Azerbaijan has a very rich flora with more than 4,500 species of higher plants being registered in the country. Due the unique climate in Azerbaijan, the flora is much richer in the number of species than the flora of the other republics of the South Caucasus. About 67% of the species growing in the whole Caucasus can be found in Azerbaijan. The richness of Azerbaijan's flora and the variety of its vegetation results from the variety and richness of its physical-geographic and natural-historic conditions and from its compound history influenced by the remote floristic regions.