In the Tofalaria region and in the Reserve there are not roads. When you get into the forest you find sort of paths where the bushes of the wild berries are smaller and you identify a trek. The treks are not made by humans but by big animals. Bears, Deers, Elks, Wolverines and Wolves are the inhabitants of the forest. You can follow their tracks because they usually go toward the water from hills and this become very useful otherwise your steps collapse in the bushes.
Vladimir Zacharovic, Director of the Reserve and working there since the beginning of 70’s, is our teacher. He knows any secret of the forest, the wildlife, the botanic and mineral resources. He tells us that during the month of May at the refuge on the Agul Lake, few miles away for there, you can observe very well the arrival of the bears. Any day, for a month, an average of seven bears passes in front of the refuge floating in the water and then spread in the forest. The same happens on Bear’s Lake. The population of them in just that two lakes can be estimated in about 500 units.
Footprints of them are everywhere. On the beach you can see them very clear frequently with little puppy beside. We went to install some infrared auto click cameras in strategic points. We left some fishes nearby and we got quite clear pictures of them.
One night I was sleeping in my tent and I heard a frightful sound. I went out and I saw Vladimir playing a long horn in front of the refuge. I so got calm but few seconds later I heard the same sound in the forest. It was a deer powerful answering at the signal. Amazing sound that seems more a dinosaur than a pacific mammal and then you recognise during the nights.
A duty of the Rangers is to provide salt to deer in this area otherwise poor of mineral salts. They use a cut tree in the forest and put on the center of the cut trunk a block of salt. The deer come and lick it. Such activity around the tree became very evident because some time later the ground disappears and the roots remain in evidence like a sculpture in wood made by the animals.
Many birds are flying over us. Hawks, falcons and smaller ones are quite active in a warm season of few months. I was climbing out of a waterfall area and a strange sort of black and white pheasant appeared a meter in front of me. He looked at me with calm and then walked away. I have never seen a wild pheasant so near in my life.
…..To be continued…..