Olkhon Island

Vegetation and animal world

The territory of Olkhon Island is situated in the Pribaikalsky National Natural Park. There are 155 species of birds on the island (wood grouse, black grouse, partridge, woodpecker, woodcock, duck, skylark, swift, wagtail, etc.) and animals (lynx, hare, red fox, squirrel, polecat, weasel and others including Olkhon vole – an endemic species). There are no large predators on Olkhon Island. Wolves occasionally come to the island in winter over the ice. In waters of Lake Baikal there are about 56 species of fishes (whitefish, omul, black and white grayling, sturgeon, taimen, lenok, perch, pike, Siberian loach, Amur carp, catfish, etc.) and only one species of mammals – Baikal seal, the appearance of which in the area of Olkhon Island is, unfortunately, an uncommon event. Anthropogenic impact and unreasonable extermination of the island animals cause the extinction of Siberian stags, elks, roe deer, wolves, and sables. It is impossible to meet imperial eagle, large cormorant, bustard, and saker falcon. Enthusiasts try to do their best to improve the situation: they have introduced Manchurian deer and Siberian roe deer to Olkhon Island

The island is peculiar in its flora: areas of relict vegetation – steppes and a spruce grove have been preserved here.
A relict spruce grove (the area of about 340 hectares), a living witness of almost completely extinct flora of the Ice Age, is situated in the thick taiga on the western slope of Mount Zhima. Scientists explain that the relict grove grows in the highest part of the island because of increased humidity of this area – the amount of precipitation is the highest here. Relict steppes and the remains of the ancient xerophilous vegetation which had covered earlier the major part of Priangarye and the Upper Lena were also preserved.

Forests are rich in berries – raspberry, bog bilberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant. Large brown currant grows near bogs and springs. Of great popularity is Olkhon cowberry.

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