Azerbaijan is a sovereign nation in the South Caucasus region. The country is home to 106 mammalian species, 363 species of birds, 97 species of fish, 10 amphibian species, 52 reptilian species, and several species of invertebrates. Over 4,500 species of higher plants have been recorded in the country. The national parks of Azerbaijan protect the nation’s unique flora and fauna. They are as follows:
9. Zangezur National Park
This national park was established as the Ordubad National Park in 2003. Later, in November 2009, the size of the park was enlarged to have a total area of 427.97 square km and the park was renamed to Zangezur National Park. The park has a mountainous landscape and has cold winters and hot summers. Several species of rare flora and fauna are found here. Some of the most notable mammalian fauna of the park are the Persian leopard, jackal, striped hyena, bezoar goat, porcupine etc. 217 species and subspecies of birds like the golden eagle, great and little bustard, Dalmatian pelican, white-tailed eagle, etc., can be spotted at this park.
8. Ag-Gel National Park
This national park of Azerbaijan was also established in 2003 and occupies an area of 179.24 square km. Lake Ağgöl is a significant feature of the park and occupies a large area in the park. It is recognized as an Important Bird Area and a Ramsar Site. The park has a semi-desert landscape and serves as a nesting and/or overwintering site of over 140 species of birds. Some of the threatened avians like the white pelicans, the white-tailed eagle, Dalmatian pelicans, etc., are also found here. 20 fish species live in the lake. The mammalian fauna of the Ag-Gel National Park includes the jungle cat, wild boar, etc.
7. Shirvan National Park
This national park was set up in 2003 and occupies an area of 543.73 square km in the Salyan Rayon area of Azerbaijan. The national park protects the Goitered Gazelle, a vulnerable species, as well as other flora and fauna. A large part of the park comprises of water reservoirs. About 40% of the area of the park is occupied by the Halocnemum vegetation which is a desert-type of vegetation. The semi-desert type vegetation here is dominated by the ephemeral wormwood. Several species of reptiles and amphibians like the Caspian turtle, grass snake, Levantine viper, marsh frog, etc., are found here. Birds like the bustards, steppe eagle, pintail, mallard duck, gray goose, etc., thrive in the Shirvan National Park. Mammalian fauna like the jungle cat, Persian gazelle, jackal, etc., live here.
6. Hirkan National Park
Established in 2004, this national park spans a total area of 427.97 square km that includes territory in the Astara and Lankaran rayons (administrative districts) of Azerbaijan. 99% of the area of this park is covered by forests. The Hirkan National Park has a rich and varied plant life with several endemic species. Large mammals found here include the brown bear, lynx, wolf, golden jackal, red fox, roe deer, otter, etc. Several endemic subspecies of birds have also been recorded here like the Caspian tit, Caucasus pheasant, etc.
5. Altyaghach National Park
This national park of Azerbaijan is located in the Siazan and Khizi rayons (administrative districts) of the country. The park was established in 2004 and covers an area of 110.35 square km. 90.5% of the area of the national park is covered by forests of temperate deciduous broadleaved trees. Some of the fauna found here include the lynx, wild boar, brown bear, wolf, badger, otter, etc.
4. Absheron National Park
This small national park occupies an area of 7.83 square km in the ecoregion of the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests. The park was established in 2005. The floral diversity of the park is low. However, the faunal diversity is significant and includes gazelles, foxes, rabbits, badgers, and several species of birds. The coastal waters of the area host a diversity of fishes and the Caspian seal.
3. Shahdag National Park
Established in 2006, this national park spans an area of 1,159 square km in northern Azerbaijan in the Great Caucasus Mountains region. The 14,656 ft tall Mount Bazardüzü, the country’s tallest mountain, is located here. A wide variety of plants including several species of flowering plants grow here. Fauna of the Shahdag National Park features the East Caucasian tur, the Caucasian chamois, goat antelope, Bezoar ibex, Syrian brown bear, common jungle cat, roe deer, and many other species.
2. Göygöl National Park
This national park was founded in 2008 and encompasses an area of 127.55 square km. It is located in Azerbaijan’s Goygol Rayon administrative district. Lake Göygöl, one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, is located here. The park protects the habitat in the subalpine zone of the Lesser Caucasus mountains. Forests cover nearly the entire area of the park. 420 species of plants including 20 endemic species grow here. Birds like the Egyptian vulture, black woodpecker, mistle thrush, stock dove, Eurasian woodcock, etc., can be spotted in this national park. Mammals like the lynx, golden jackal, brown bear, red fox, badger, and roe deer are also inhabitants of the Göygöl National Park.
1. Samur-Yalama National Park
Established in 2012, Samur-Yalama is the youngest national park of Azerbaijan. The park occupies an area of 117.72 square km. A large part of this park is located in the coastal zone of the Caspian Sea. Varied landscapes can be observed here like forests, arid steppes, littoral and wooded area, etc. The dominant flora at this national park is Persian ironwood and chestnut oak. Fauna includes a great diversity of birds like the eastern imperial eagle, black kite, etc. Mammals like the lynx, brown bear, Caspian red deer, reed cat, etc., also inhabit this national park.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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