Local dwellers in Chukotka are saving walruses with the help from WWF
Researchers spotted record high mortality level of Pacific walruses on all haul-outs on the Chukchee Sea shore last year. There is a hypothesis that this level is partially a result of global climate change.
Another cause of death is tightly connected with the number of disturbing factors. There can be as much as one hundred thousand walrus species on all haul-outs near Keniskin Bay (the Chukchee Sea shore) simultaneously. The animals lying closely to each other get frightened easily by the appearance of predators (brown and polar bears, stray dogs), low flying birds, and even wind blasts. The anxiety of only one animal is enough to raise the whole haul-out in panic. Dashing towards the water line, animals jump from steeps, crashing their bones and smashing each other. After each such panic flight some of them remain on the shore stomped to death, others die later due to injuries received in the stampede.
The main victims of the stampede are immature species. However, big adult males are sometimes to die as well. And pregnant female species can lose their cubs which increases the mortality rate.
The results of the monitoring conducted in 2017, showed that walruses at Cape Serdtse-Kamen died several times less often than those on the haul-outs of Cape Schmidt and Cape Vankarem. The data matches to a lower number of panic flights registered at Cape Serdtse-Kamen.
WWF-Russia’s experts tend to connect these facts to the measures undertaken by dwellers from Enurmino. These measures can also be the cause of a low number of registered conflicts between humans and bears at the same period comparing to the previous years. Besides fulfilling its conservation goals, the WWF-Russia’s Project increased the occupation level, created new jobs for locals.
From March to July 2018, the hunters from Enurmino will monitor polar bear aggregations near the artificial feeding grounds, and register conflicts between bears and humans.