Community-Based Surveys and Management of Walruses and Polar Bears in the Area of Cape Kozhevnikov (Chukotka, Russia)
The coastal haulout of Pacific walruses at Cape Kozhevnikov, Chukotka (Russian Far East), appeared for the first time in 2007, likely as a response of the walrus population to the unprecedented decrease of ice cover extent resulting from global climate change. This is the most western, and one of the largest known, haulouts on the mainland coast and is of great importance for walruses migrating in autumn from offshore summering habitats in the East Siberian and Chukchi seas to the wintering grounds in the Bering Strait. The peak number of walruses on the overall Cape exceeded 50,000: when turnover is taken into account, it could account for more than half the estimated population size for Pacific walruses. The haulout attracts polar bears and is less than 1 km from the comparatively large (about 700 people) village of Ryrkaipiy. The neighborhood so close to the haulout is a source of considerable disturbance – a factor causing mass panics and the death of many walruses on the coast. The local community, as well as environmental and research organizations, have made a great joint effort for the conservation of the haulout; these individuals collected information essential for their proper management. In the past, the Cape was also used by female polar bears for maternity denning. Immediately recognizing the high importance of this cape for walruses and polar bears, WWF Russia, the All-Russian Research Institute for Nature Protection, and the Marine Mammal Council prepared all necessary documentation for establishing a regionally protected area (nature monument), “Cape Kozhevnikov,” that is expected to be approved and in place from 2010 onward. This provision marks a very important step when taking into consideration plans for economic development of the region.
KeywordsArctic Ocean Polar Bear Nature Monument District Authority Haulout Site
The authors acknowledge outstanding help and active work on monitoring and conservation of the haulout from Tatiana Minenko, Boris Ytygyrgyn, Oksana Makarova, Vladilen Kavry, Zinaida Konovalova, Irina Deminova, Vera Tynarali, Zinaida Rakhtyna, Valentina Tagrato, and Igor Yatykvyn.
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