Ukrainian Steppe Nature Reserve

Image - Kamiani Mohyly Nature Reserve. Image - The Ukrainian Steppe Nature Reserve. Image - Horses at Mykhailivka Virgin Soil Reserve.

Ukrainian Steppe Nature Reserve (Український степовий заповідник; Ukrainskyi stepovyi zapovidnyk). A state nature preserve established in 1961 as an amalgamation of three nature reserves, Khomutivskyi Steppe, Kamiani Mohyly Nature Reserve, and Mykhailivka Virgin Soil Preserve. The preserve is dedicated to preserving a portion of the original steppe environment. It has a total area of 1,634 ha. The largest (1,030 ha) of the components, Khomutivskyi Steppe, is situated in Novoozivsk raion, Donetsk oblast, in the Black Sea Depression. It provides sanctuary for animals such as the European hare, the mole rat, the tiger weasel, the steppe viper, the black-headed bunting, the whip snake, marmots, and the like, some of which faced almost total extinction at the turn of the century. It also features approximately 560 varieties of flora. The Kamiani Mohyly component of the rreserve consists of two parallel granite ridges separated by a valley. With an area of 404 ha, it stretches across the border between Donetsk oblast and Zaporizhia oblast in Volodarsk and Kuibysheve raions. A variety of vegetation can be found in the reserve, including the European aspen, pears, hawthorns, spireas, the dog rose, and the blackberry cotoneaster. Several species of centaurea and yarrow unique to the region grow in the reserve. The Mykhailivka Virgin Soil component (202 ha) is situated farther to the north, in Lebedyn raion of Sumy oblast. Although in the forest-steppe zone, the Mykhailivka Reserve is primarily a steppe-type reserve. Among its 960 varieties of flora are approximately 40 rare plants, including several vetches, carnations, wedge larkspurs, and irises. The reserve also shelters 26 species of mammals, 115 of birds, and 10 of fish.

Ihor Masnyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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