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  Ecological Tour on the Lena River

The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) occupies most of the northeastern part of the Asian subcontinent. It constitutes one fifth of Russias total territory and almost two thirds of the territory of Western Europe. More than 40% of the republics land is located above the Arctic Circle. Yakutia is located entirely within the permafrost zone. The mighty mountainous rock masses, which have been frozen for a millennium are known in the West as the ''Siberian Sphinx''. For a long time, European scientists were unable to believe that even at depths of 100 meters, the ground in Yakutia was frozen solid. In the Tiksi District, the thickness of frozen earth reaches depths of 500 meters. In the Arctic and in most of Siberia, by the end of summer, the uppermost layer of soil- ranging in depths from 30 centimeters to 2 meters- thaws, while deeper, at depths of 100 meters, the frozen mountainous rock masses extend, unthawed for centuries. This is the permafrost, or cryolithic zone, which appeared almost 2 million years ago. The world learned of its existence only in the 17th century. The vast majority- seventy-two percent- of Yakutias territory is blanketed by taiga, while the rest is covered by forest-tundra, tundra, and arctic half-desert. Notable and unique features include mineral deposits of charoite, which is a semi-precious stone unique to Yakutia; fossilized mammoth remains; and curative mineral springs. Yakutia is also the only natural breeding habitat for the rarest Siberian crane and rose gull. Yakutias largest river is the Lena. It is among the ten longest rivers in the world. Where the Lena feeds into the Laptev Sea, its delta occupies a total territory of 30,000 km?, which makes it the largest in Russia and the second largest in the world after the Mississippi. It is renowned for its amazingly beautiful and austere northern nature; the diversity of it landscapes- inaccessible mountains, powerful rivers, dense forest, endless tundra; and its unique assemblage of plant and animal species. Ust-Lensky Zapovednik- the largest strict nature reserve in Russia and one of the largest in the world- is located here; it was created to preserve the irreplaceable natural features of the Far North for future generations. Here, on tundra lakes, in the many tributaries of the Lena, and along the sea shore, almost 110 bird species- mostly water and shore birds, nest. Among them are rare and endangered species including: Bewick's swan (ygnus bewickii), red-throated loon (Gavia stellata Pontoppidan), whooper swan (Cygnus ygnus), Baikal teal (Anas formosa), Rosss gull (Rhodostethia rosea), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), and others. An even rarer visitor is the Siberian white crane (Grus leucogeranus). Ust-Lensky Zapovednik protects the polar bear (Ursus Maritimus), Laptev walrus (Odobenus rosmarus laptevi), Koryak snow sheep (Ovis nivicola koriakorum), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus pearsoni), Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), and lemming (Lemmus sibiricus). Inhabiting the forest-tundra which dominates the southern parts of the zapovednik are the brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolverine (Gulo gulo), lynx (Felis lynx), and moose (Alces alces). Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus), which were brought from Taimyrsky Zapovednik, are also successfully acclimatizing. In the Pliocene Era (1.5 million-10,000 B.C.), mammoths, wooly rhinoceros, musk ox, and bison inhabited a submarine plain which was then located here. It was here that the first known mammoth remains were found, and to this day, the bones of ancient animals are not an uncommon find.
Financial Support of the League of Nation's Health.