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Kazakhstan presented the Tiger Reintroduction Programme at the International Tiger Forum

05 september 2022
On September 5 Vladivostok hosted the 2nd International Tiger Forum, where Kazakhstan presented the program for the return of the predator to its historical range.

The Kazakhstan delegation included Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan Aliya Shalabekova, Head of the Division of International Cooperation Aigerim Kuat, Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee Daniyar Turgambaev, Advisor to the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Russian Federation Suyundikov Maksat and Head of WWF Russia office in Kazakhstan Grigory Mazmanyants. The delegation members reported about the tiger program, the stages of its implementation, the work results since the creation of the reserve and further preparation plans for the arrival of the predator.

(c) WWF Russia

Moreover, a detailed exposition of the habitat on the territory of the Southern Pribalkhashye was demonstrated for the guests of the Forum. The exhibition design helped to introduce the future "home" of the tiger to the public.

The 1st International Tiger Forum took place 12 years ago in 2010, where Kazakhstan declared its commitment to return the rare cat back to the country. Seven years later, thanks to the efforts of scientists from Kazakhstan, Russia and other countries, the Tiger Reintroduction Programme was elaborated, supported by a group of tiger experts from the IUCN. In September 2017, a Memorandum on its implementation in the country was signed between WWF and the Government of Kazakhstan.

Over four years since the establishment of the Ile-Balkhash State Nature Reserve in 2018, active work has been carried out to restore the ecosystem. The Tiger Reintroduction Programme is designed for at least 35 years and includes three main stages: habitat preparation, releasing tigers into the wild and monitoring of the population growth. Meanwhile, the program implementation is in the middle of the first stage, during which work is being successfully carried out to restore the ecosystem, protect the territory and increase the number of ungulates. 

TASS News Agency

Next year, the Ile-Balkhash Nature Reserve turns five years old. A lot of work has been done over this time: cordons have been built, communications have been provided, and full-scale protection of the territory has been ensured. Measures are being taken to restore the riparian forests affected by fires and lack of water in the Ili River and Lake Balkhash.

“The territory of the reserve is a natural complex including a variety of natural ecosystems from semi-desert, floodplain forests to wetlands. Such an advantageous geographical location and places rich in food provide favorable environment for the breeding of wild animals and a large number of birds. The biodiversity of the nature reserve includes about 40 species of mammals, 284 bird species and more than 420 species of plants, many of them are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. For example, in May 2022, more than 15,000 seedlings of oleaster (Elaeagnus), Asiatic poplar and willow were planted here,” says Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan Aliya Shalabekova.
TASS News Agency

Since 2019, the reintroduction of the Red Book Bukhara deer has been implemented, and by now more than 150 deer have been already returned to their historical range, from where they disappeared more than a century ago. Moreover, the number of wild boars and goitered gazelles has significantly increased. This year, the reintroduction of kulans is planned.

“The process of reintroduction is a highly important and reliable way to restore or increase the populations of endangered animals in their natural environment. According to various monitoring data, from a thousand to two thousand ungulates live in the Ile-Balkhash Nature Reserve today, and we see a steady increase in their numbers,” says Daniyar Turgambaev, Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Apart from the work on the restoration of animals and forests on the territory of the reserve, special attention is paid to the work with local people from the nearest villages. On the yearly basis, projects of financial support for the local residents are implemented to ensure family income from environmentally friendly sources, water-saving technologies such as drop irrigation are being developed as well. Various environmental education projects are launched in schools.

(c) WWF Russia
“Indeed, the support of local people is one of the most important stages of the tiger reintroduction program. Without their assistance, the implementation of such an ambitious project is simply impossible. The economic development of these villages is another specific area of work. Livestock breeding and agriculture cannot fully meet the needs of families, and one of the Program focus is to support local residents and provide an opportunity to develop other sources of income without damaging the environment. Over the past four years, WWF has provided more than 40 small grants, formed a fund for the development of local communities, and provided support in growing gourds for low-income families. Trainings on working with ecotourists are underway. In particular, attention is focused on the creation of guest houses, improving skills of being a tourist guide, the production of souvenirs,” says Grigory Mazmanyants, Head of the WWF Russia office in Kazakhstan.

Representatives of the Kazakhstan delegation shared their plans for the future. Thus, a Visitor Center will be built on the territory of the reserve, and work has begun on the creation of a reintroduction center, including the construction of enclosures for animal overexposure and veterinary examinations. The Center will accommodate the staff to monitor the predators’ behavior and movements, and ensure the safety for local people.

In the coming years, close cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia in the implementation of the Programme is planned. During the 2nd International Tiger Forum, a Memorandum of Understanding relating the reintroduction was signed. Moreover, Kazakhstan joined the Vladivostok Declaration on Tiger Restoration.

“The Memorandum will mark the beginning of joint productive work on the ambitious task of returning the tiger to Kazakhstan. We are positive that the implementation of the measures designated by the Declaration will increase tiger numbers in all tiger range countries. We hope that by the next Forum, which will be held in 12 years, Kazakhstan will be ready to present its contribution to this task, which is so necessary for the nature of the planet. We are confident that the Forum will strengthen relations and bring all countries closer to solving the main task - to preserve the population of the iconic predator,” said Aliya Shalabekova, Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
TASS News Agency

The Tiger Reintroduction Programme in Kazakhstan is designed for many years. It is implemented by the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the support of WWF Russia, as well as the UNDP Program in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

WWF Russia office in Kazakhstan expresses its deep gratitude to "Begonia" for its help in creating a stand and a unique exposition of the territory of the Southern Balkhash region - the future "home" of tigers.