Chairman of Environmental Center "Ozone"
Research: Russian Desman is not a myth but an Ukrainian reality
Abstract: Russian Desman (Desmana moschata) is a threatened species, a relict of the tertiary period, and endemic to Eastern Europe. The overall species numbers have decreased continuously due to the destruction of habitats (e.g. small flood-plain lakes and former river-beds). The range of the species in Ukraine is confined now to a small site of the Seym River flood-plain. In 2002, the total size of the Russian Desman population in Ukraine hardly exceeded 500 individuals. Poaching by local fishermen keep their numbers at a low level. Since 2000, we have implemented a campaign aimed at saving the Russian Desman in Ukraine. Recently officials decided to create a nature reserve for protection of the local Desman population. But several issues (the lack of up-to-date information about the current limits of Desman range and unawareness of local people in the necessity to protect these unique animals) exist, which postpone the final approval of this decision. The project addresses these problems.