Ecology and Conservation of Large Mammals
Head of the program: Professor Natia Kopaliani
Participants of the program: Associate Prof. Zurab Gurielidze. Assistant Prof. Bela Japoshvili
Program also involves MA and PhD students of the Ilia State University.
Contact person: Natia Kopaliani
mail: email@example.com; tel.: 899 552 994
Summary of the Project
Influence of large land and sea mammals on vital capacity of other populations, flora and entire structure of the landscape and their importance became reason for naming them the “key genera of the ecosystem”. Large mammals are considered to be monitor types as it possible to assess structural and qualitative changes of an ecosystem based on their condition. Majority of large mammals, which are found on the territory of Georgia are enlisted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in the register of endangered species. Part of the species are endemic to the Caucasus making their study important for preservation of biodiversity of not only Georgian but global environment as well.
Program sets the goal to conduct ecologic study of large land and sea (namely the Black Sea) mammals in order to preserve and restore them. Major interest of the study is focused on all three types of whales, vulnerable types of ungulate animals and conflict between humans and predators and its resolution. Program foresees cooperation with foreign colleagues and involvement in the research process of students from different academic levels.
Goals of the program:
Research projects/directions of the program:
Duration: 10 years
Duration: 2 years
Until the 60s of the 20th century wolf was widespread in the entire Georgia. Later, human persecution and the existence of bonus system caused severe decrease in the number of wolf and its total annihilation in certain places (namely, Kolkheti Lowland) (Materials of Georgian Biodiversity Program, 1996).
Last year’s research (Kopaliani et al, unpublished data) has proved that wolf has appeared in the densely populated places and agricultural lands of Kolkheti Lowland and its outskirts, where it had not appeared for the past 50 years (map #1). The appearing of wolf in the villages of Lower Imereti, Lower Guria and Kobuleti district has created huge problems for the local population. As there are no natural pray species of wolf inhabited these territories, they attack domestic cattle. The population, which is unaccustomed to the existence of wolves, let their cattle graze without shepherds and sometimes leave them outdoors at night. There are no large-size dogs to protect the cattle and there are almost no hunters capable of wolf liquidation (if necessary). Hence, the conflict between wolf and humans has become especially acute in the places of recolonization.The population panics because of the wolves. Even though this fear is exaggerated, if no solution is found, there is a threat of erosion of social tolerance, as was the case in certain countries (Gehring, Potter, 2005).
In order to eradicate the human-wolf conflict on the territories occupied by wolves recently (the so-called „Hot spots“), as well as in order to elaborate preventive measures, it is necessary to carry out a detailed research of the recolonization process.
Within the framework of the research we intend to implement the following activities:
Duration: 8 years