Protected Animals and Plants

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Protected Animals and Plants


species and, sometimes, large taxonomic groups of animals and plants subject to special protection and regulation. Such protective measures aim to protect the gene pool, reestablish the number of rare animals and plants, and preserve vanishing species.

Over the last 150 years, primarily as a result of man’s economic activities (excessive trapping and shooting of animals, felling of forests, plowing of steppes), approximately 110 species of mammals and birds have become extinct. Some plant species have become quite rare. Extinct mammals include the urus, tarpan, Steller’s sea cow, quagga, Burchell’s zebra, and bubal. Among the extinct birds are the dodo, great auk, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, emu Dromiceidae diemenianus, moa, and Pallas’s cormorant.

The number of individuals a species has and the number of members found in an entire geographical region (temporary or indefinite general bans) or in part of it (local bans) serve as the basis for designating certain plants and animals as protected species.

In the USSR, animals and plants are declared protected species through actions by governmental bodies of the Union republics. Such actions are based on nature preservation laws. In the RSFSR, protected species are designated by decrees issued by oblast and krai executive committees and the Soviet Ministry of the ASSR.

Protected animals and plants may not be commercially exploited and are kept under careful observation. There is a list of endangered species. Procedures for using related yet more plentiful species have been introduced. The protection of specimens of rare species found on kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and other settled regions is the responsibility of the persons in authority in these areas. Bans in the USSR have saved several plants (Pinus eldarica and Pinus pityusa) and animals (saiga, elk, sable, beaver) from extinction.

Protected plant species in the USSR include the English yew; a number of club moss, tulip, and orchid species; the white water lily; Najas tenuissima; dyer’s buckthorn; and English ivy. Among the protected animals are the polar bear, tiger, snow leopard, goitered gazelle, markhor, goral, Bukhara deer (Cervus bactrianus), Asiatic wild ass, desman, flamingo, red-breasted goose, Branta bernicla, emperor goose, all swan and crane species, a number of particularly rare nongame birds, and some poisonous snakes found in Middle Asia.

In many countries the designation of protected species is under government jurisdiction. The United States has adopted a number of laws dealing with the protection of such animals as the golden and bald eagles. The protection of some species—the primates, big cats, and sea turtles—sometimes requires coordinated measures adopted by several countries. International agreements have been signed, such as the Washington Convention on the International Trade of Wildlife Species in Danger of Extinction (1973).

Measures to protect endangered species include the establishment of special methods and specific seasons for procuring the animals and plants. Procurement is restricted to those persons who purchase licenses. Preserves, sanctuaries, and other protected natural regions have been set up. Protected animals and plants are often raised by man and kept in arboretums, botanical gardens, and zoos. Père David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus) and the wisent (Bison bonasas) have been preserved in zoos.


Redkie i ischezaiushchie vidy mlekopitaiushchikh i ptits ν SSSR (Obzorliteratury). Moscow, 1969. Bannikov, A. G. “‘Krasnaia kniga’ prirody.” Priroda, 1972, no. 4, p. 94. Belousova, L. S., and L. V. Denisova. Redkie i ischezaiushchie rasteniia
SSSR. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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