liakhvi protected area

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  • Liakhvi protected area

Liakhvi Strict Nature Reserve is situated in the northeastern part of Ckhinvali district, in the upper streams of the gorge of the Patara Liakhvi River. The greater part of the Strict Nature Reserve (within 6388 - 5386 hectares) is covered with forest, and its smaller part is covered with alpine pastures, cliffs and weathered soils. Historically the territory of the Strict Nature Reserve is mentioned as Shida Kartli and sometimes as Dvaleti and Samachablo.

Southern Ossetia is located on the border of the subtropical and continental climates. The climate of the Strict Nature Reserve is much more continental as the height of the reserve is not same in all parts; even the annual temperature in the high mountains is not homogenous. In the foothills, the lowest point of the Strict Nature Reserve, during the year, approximately 179 frost-free days are recorded and 112 days – in the high mountains.

The Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary sediments participate in the geological construction of the Liakhvi Strict Nature Reserve. Geo-tectonically the territory covers the parts of Mestia-Tianeti flysch zone and Gagra-Java zone of the Caucasus southern slope, the eastern edge of Amzara-Mukhuri subzone and the central raised zones of the intermountain of the Trans Caucasus. Celestine and gypsum outcrops are known within the region and its adjacent areas. The mineralization of nickel sulphide (milerit) is connected to phyllites, ultra alkali, alkali and listvenites, and talc and lenses of serpentinites are characterized to the ultra alkali sectors.

Mountain and high-mountain plants characteristic to the southern slopes of eastern Caucasus are preserved in the Liakhvi Strict Nature Reserve. These plants are as follows: oak groves, beech groves and hornbeam groves. Compared to the Didi Liakhvi basin, the Patara Liakhvi gorge is not rich with fir groves. The Litvinov birch (Betula litwinowii)dominates in the forests of subalpine zone and in the upper zones the high-mountain Velvet maple grovesand subalpine shrubberies, mainly the Caucasian rhododendron are found. Main species of high-grasses found in the Strict Nature Reserve are as follows: Senecio platyphyllus, Aconitum nasutum, Aconitum orientalis, Chaerophyllum bulbosum, Ligusticum alatum, et al.

Rivers of the Strict Nature reserve and their numeroustributaries are abounded with Georgia’s Red List species of Brown trout (Salmo trutta fario).

Patara Liakhvi is very rich in ornitho-fauna. The rare Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) inhabits the Strict Nature Reserve. The following species of birds of prey can be found in the Strict Nature Reserve: Common Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrow hawk, Merlin, Common Kestrel and nocturnal raptors, such as Tawny owl, Little owl and Eagle-owl. Woodpeckers of several species inhabit the Patara Liakhvi’s forest, and Gray Wagtails and Dippers can be seen on the river banks. The ornithofauna of the Strict Nature Reserve is presented also by the following birds: Swallow, Goldfinch, Wren, Blackbird, Raven, Ring ouzel and other small or large birds.

Among mammals here can be found: hare, Red fox, Gray wolf, Beech and Pine martens, weasels. The real king of the reserve is a Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) whose footprints can be found everywhere – in the forest and alpine pastures as well. It is included in the Red List of Georgia. A large and stable population of this animal inhabits the reserve. Wild boar (Sus scrofa) and Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) inhabit the Strict Nature Reserve and rare and threatened Chamoises (Rupicapra rupicapra) inhabit the alpine pastures.

Monuments of Neolithic and Eneolithic ages have been discovered in the Liakhvi gorge and adjacent territories of the Strict Nature Reserve. Several caves, which were dwelling for primitive man, were excavated in Java District of Tskinvali region. The so called "Akhalgori treasure" was dis­covered in Ksani gorge; this is an unrobed crypt of a young noble woman, which is full of adornments, ritual dishes and horse outfit. The Akhalgori treasure is dated by 4th-5th century B.C. Several cyclope fortresses are remained in the region.

Among the most important Christian monuments located in the Liakhvi gorge and its adjacent territories are the following: The Nikozi basilica of the 5th century, Ksani’s Armazi of the 9th century, Tsirkoli church of the 9th century, Ikorta church of the 12th century, Tiri monastery of the 14th century, complex of Dzalini castle of the 17th century and the 14th century Largvisi residence of the Ksani nobles, with fortress and domed church.

Unfortunately, after the conflict (early 1990s), the tourist industry has made no progress in this region, though the region has excellent perspectives for it. Patara Liakhvi gorge is the perfect place for ethnological, bird-watching and botanical tourism.

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