The second young male Bezoar spotted in Lagodekhi this year

The second young male Bezoar spotted in Lagodekhi this year

Camera-traps installed in the forests of Lagodekhi Protected Areas in Eastern Georgia have captured images of a Bezoar goat, months after an unprecedented Bezoar sighting in a different part of the reserve.

Bezoar goats, which generally prefer dry and rocky habitats, have never been photographed in Lagodekhi Protected Areas and camera-trap images of a six-year male in late January raised speculation that a population of Bezoars might have managed to establish itself in Lagodekhi.

The Bezoar goat, also known as the Bezoar ibex, is an IUCN Red List species which is protected by Georgian law. Once common across the country, numbers have plummeted over the last two decades due to hunting and other pressures, with a population holding on in remote parts of Tusheti Protected Areas.

The second sighting of a Bezoar goat in different part of the Protected Areas has been met with intense interest – as well as much speculation – by biodiversity experts.

“Bezoar goats never have been, and never could have been, found in Lagodekhi” says Tbilisi Zoo Director and Professor at Ilia State University, Zura Gurielidze. “The reason for this being, [Lagodekhi’s] high levels of humidity, which bezoars don’t like. So the appearance of a second bezoar in Lagodekhi is a very interesting indicator.”

Some observers have suggested that pressures on other habitats in the region have caused Bezoars to seek new areas to colonise. Others believe that the healthy population of bezoars in neighbouring Daghestan in the Russian Federation are merely extending their range.

Although further work needs to be carried out to establish the number and permanence of Bezoar goats in Lagodekhi, for many people, including the Protected Areas’ Director Giorgi Sulamanidze, the recent sightings are signs that increased protection measures in Lagodekhi, something that CNF has supported intensively in recent years, are creating safe spaces for endangered species to recover and re-establish themselves.

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Joseph Alexander Smith is Communications and Visibility Assistant at CNF. Originally from the United Kingdom, Joseph is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Tbilisi since 2012. He has a weekly show on Radio GIPA 94.3 FM and is actively involved in local environmental and urban issues, as well as other media projects.
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