History of the Reserve
Since the early 1920s, the scientific community and newly arrived researchers in Daghestan shared opinion about the need to establish protected areas in the lower reaches of the rivers Samur, Sulak and Terek, as well as on Gunibskoye Plateau in the intra-mountain Daghestan. It resulted in organization of Samurski and Porabochevski Zakazniks.
Later, in the second half of the 20th century, the following territories were proposed as prior to give a protected status: Agrakhanski Bay, Samurski Forest, Barchan Sarykum and highlands of the Greater Caucasus Range near Mount Guton on the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Long-term debates on Samurski Forest resulted not in favor for supporters of the reserve. Here, in 1982, was organized the federal zakaznik ‘Samurski’. Further, Agrakhanski Bay was subjected to strong anthropogenic transformation, and finally, in 1983, only its northern part was declared as a zakaznik of federal importance. On the Guton site (planned as a reserve in 1986) Tlyaratinski Zakaznik was created. Gunibskoye Plateau only in 2006 acquired the status of a strictly protected area of regional importance, and there was created the natural park ‘Upper Gunib’.
Sarykum is the largest sand dune, or barchan, not only in Russia but throughout the continent of Eurasia. Its absolute altitude is 262 m.
Sarykum is the only place in Daghestan where for five months, from May to September, average monthly temperatures exceed 20°C. At the foot of the barchan it is recorded the absolute maximum temperature for Daghestan which is equal to 42.5°C. It is due to strong heating of the barchan sand surface. In summer on exposed southern slopes the surface temperature reaches 55-60°C. Already in April, the temperature of the sand in the daytime exceeds 30°C.
Fauna of Daghestan invertebrates counts almost 80 species and subspecies of fish, 8 species of amphibians, 39 species of reptiles, more than 350 bird species and 92 species of birds.