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Water wells for wildlife in the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert of Southern Balkhash

29 june 2021
Over 100 goitered gazelles will now be able to drink water in the Kapchagay – Balkhash ecological corridor and Ile-Balkhash Nature Reserve.

 Animals as well as people suffer from extreme heat and lack of water, especially in dry desert and semi-desert climates such as that found in the Balkhash district of the Almaty region, the greater part of which is taken up with the Saryesik-Atyrau desert, and whose average yearly precipitation is just 100-150 mm. 

Wells left over from a previous time, once used for farm animals, are the only source of drinking water in this area. These wells have been inactive for the last 25 years, although they did have water at a depth of up to 30 meters. Of course, animals were unable to access it. 

The World Wide Fund Russia (WWF-Russia), together with Ferrero Kazakhstan LLP with Kinder® brand, in partnership with the State Nature Reserve, have been implementing the joint project to conserve the goitered gazelle in Kazakhstan since September 2020. 

“Watering holes are the magnet which attracts all the local fauna, – says Amankas Abjaparov, the project implementer. – As part of the joint project, 8 watering locations for wild animals have been established, and they are actively getting water since April 2021. Every week I drive around the project area and pump water into the restored drinking troughs. One trip to water all the animals is up to 500 km and 2500 liters of water. Because of these activities, animals now receive the water that allows them to survive the hot season”. 

Camera traps have been installed at the watering holes, to monitor the wildlife. Because of this we can see that we help provide drinking water to goitered gazelles, hares, foxes, and many others. 

Reference. Goitered gazelles are one of a variety of their species found in the Arabian Peninsula throughout the Middle East and Asia, including Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. They are classified as vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These gazelles usually occupy arid desert and desert-steppe habitats and are found in mixed gender groups. The goitered gazelle moves seasonally (it roams, but doesn't migrate) and can cover up to 30 km per day in winter; in summer the distance is much shorter. The main requirements of the habitat are the availability of water and fine snow cover in winter.

Photo: (c) WWF-Russia
For additional information please contact
Central Asia Programme Advisor
Director of the Central Asian Program of WWF-Russia