Protecting the maternity ward - Wrangel Island Reserve, Russia

Posted on 08 August 2011  | 
Celebrating 50 years of WWF: In 2004, WWF was instrumental in having the state nature reserve, Wrangel Island, included on the list of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Natural Heritage sites.

It was the first area in the Russian Arctic to receive this prestigious status, which has helped attract financial support for ongoing environmental protection.

Located well above the Arctic Circle, the site includes the mountainous Wrangel Island (7,608 sq. km), Herald Island (11 and surrounding waters.

Wrangel Island boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus and the highest density of ancestral or repeatedly-used polar bear dens. It is often referred to as the polar bear ‘maternity ward’, with about 500 mother bears giving birth there every year.

It is a major feeding ground for the grey whale migrating from Mexico and the northernmost nesting ground for 100 migratory bird species, many endangered.

Currently, around 417 species and sub-species of plants have been identified on Wrangel Island reserve, double that of any other arctic tundra territory of comparable size and more than any other arctic island.

Wrangel is also one of the last known habitats of the mammoth, which died out there around 3,500 years ago.
Snow geese on Wrangel Island
© WWF / Flickr user Rick Leche, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License Enlarge

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