New home for saiga in Kazakhstan

Posted on 13 October 2006    
A baby saiga
© Yury Grachev
A new nature reserve will be created in Kazakhstan to protect the unique steppes of this region, found nowhere else in the world, and the highly endangered species of saiga. Thanks to the activities of a coalition of conservation organizations initiated with participation of WWF, the country's government added the creation of the reserve, called Altyn Dala, to its plan of protected areas development for 2007-2009.

In some Turkic languages, Altyn means “gold” and Dala means “plain”.  Why are these “golden plains” unique?

“In spite of large-scale land conversion, Kazakhstan still possesses a considerable area of Palearctic pristine steppe ecosystems, which can be found nowhere else in the world,” said Olga Pereladova, head of WWF Central Asian programme.

The coalition of environmental organizations and agencies that are promoting the creation of the new protected area, is called the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative. It includes such conservation organizations as Frankfurt Zoological Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF, the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan , as well as Kazakhstan state agencies - the Committee for Forestry and Hunting (the Ministry of Agriculture) and the Ministry of Environment.

“Altyn Dala preserve will be located in the habitat of the world’s largest saiga population that has collapsed by more than 95% over the past 15 years”, said Tatiana Bragina, who coordinates the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative. “Although the decline has stopped now, the population is still much smaller than it used to be.”
A baby saiga
© Yury Grachev Enlarge
Northern Kazakhstan
© WWF-Russia Enlarge

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