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Bukhara deer released into the wild at Ile-Balkhash nature reserve

25 september 2019
Five Bukhara deer were released from the adaptation enclosure into the wild at the Ile-Balkhash nature reserve. Animals had been brought into the reserve from the Syrdarya-Turkestan State Regional Nature Park. It took 8 months to prepare the deer for the release.

During that time, the animals had to get used to each other and form a herd. Committee from the representatives of the Almaty Regional Territorial Inspection of Forestry and Wildlife, under the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as veterinarians, employees and managers of the Ile-Balkhash nature reserve officially opened two sections of the enclosure. Bucks and does were lately staying within their own groups inside the enclosure, but the mating season has started in Central Asia, which means there will be some serious fighting between the bucks. 

 "It's always hard to be the first. The deer now need to find the best places for feeding, the watering location, and on top of that − there may also be wolves and even poachers in the area, − said Grigory Mazmanyants, Director of Central Asian Program of WWF-Russia. − That's why the specialists of the nature reserve, supported by WWF, are planning to keep a close eye on the movements of the first group. The deer are wearing satellite collars, and we have also set up trail cameras and feeding stations near the point of the release".

It's been over 100 years since Bukhara deer last stepped on the Balkhash soil. The initiative of WWF-Russia has helped return the deer to their historical habitat. Reintroduction of Bukhara deer in Central Asia is an important part of the program for reintroduction of the Caspian tiger in Kazakhstan, which WWF implements in cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan. 

"In the next 5−6 years, we are planning to release several hundred deer, that's why the first group is crucial, − said Grigory Mazmanyants. − We need to see how much the deer rely on the feeding stations and how comfortable they feel in the South Pribalkhashye, because a lot has changed over 100 years, and WWF as well as Kazakhstan experts have a lot to do in order to restore the pristine beauty of this place".

Until the first half of the 20th century, numerous Bukhara deer had lived in Ile-Balkhash. In the beginning of last century, the species disappeared from the fauna of Ile-Balkhash and in the second half – of Kazakhstan in general. Today Bukhara deer is on the International Red List of Threatened Species and in the Red Book of Kazakhstan.

2019 is a special year for WWF-Russia: we are celebrating silver Jubilee. During the 25 years, the Fund has implemented more than 1,000 field projects in 47 regions of Russia.

Bukhara deer. Photo: (c) Dmitry Tyshkevich

For additional information please contact
Director of the Central Asian Program Office of WWF-Russia