The following two species are described in more details, because there are relatively good information on their distribution, population numbers and trends in Tusheti. . They are also listed as priority species of the Caucasus ecoregion (Zazanashvili et al. 2012). Thus, they were used as important “umbrella species” when preparing the zonation of the Tusheti PL (see Chapters 1.7 and VII).
Bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus)
Population of the goat in the easternmost part of Tusheti is closely interlinked with range of this species in western Dagestan, creating together the core population in the eastern Caucasus. Its distribution in the Tusheti PAs is divided between the Tusheti SNR, NP and PL (see Annex 5). Summer range of the species covers some 96 km2 of forests, subalpine and alpine meadows, from lower altitudes (depending on suitable habitats, their slopes, and presence of forest cover and rocky places) up to 3200 m. However, individuals of both sexes and all age classes could be found in forest habitats only (ca 63 km2); open, non-forest areas are occupied by adult males only. It is estimated that the recent population reaches some 130 animals (Minister Decree No. 261/2012) and it is regarded to be slightly increasing. Main threats for the species are illegal hunting (poaching), habitat degradation and competition with livestock (Akhmedov et al. in Zazanashvili & Mallon 2009).
East Caucasian Tur (Capra cylindricornis)
Area of the species summer distribution covers approx. 330 km2, from the altitude of 2800 m up to the highest peaks (see Annex 5). Thus, only a small part of the area is found in the Tusheti PL – in its westernmost and south-westernmost parts (Tsovata and the east of the Great Caucasus Range). Majority of animals live in inaccessible areas of nival and subnival zones. In summer, they rarely come down to alpine elevations because pastures are intensively used for sheep grazing there. The population is estimated at 750 animals (Minister Decree No. 261/2012) and is regarded to be stable. Main threats are poaching, excessive grazing by livestock that leads to significant decrease in biomass of subalpine and alpine grasslands, and with lower importance also disturbance by tourists, helicopters and freeride skiing (Kopaliani & Gurielidze in Zazanashvili & Mallon 2009, Inashvili in litt.).