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Kazakhstan “steppes” up protection of endangered antelope
A new nature reserve in Kazakhstan will protect unique wetlands and rare antelopes living on the country's famous steppes.
More than 93 per cent of the Irgiz-Turgay nature reserve, with an area of 763,549 hectares, will become a protected pasture for wild ungulates, including saiga antelope.
"This large reserve is an important step in achieving our goal of creating a system of protected areas of more than 6 million hectares, first of all for rare ungulates and birds," says Tatyana Bragina, Coordinator of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative.
The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative (ADCI) is aimed at protecting the steppes and semideserts of Kazakhstan, along with the species inhabiting them. The initiative is made up of a coalition of international NGOs, which includes the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF, and Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan, in cooperation with Kazakhstan's Committee for Forestry and Hunting (the Ministry of Agriculture) and the Ministry of Environment.
The creation of the Irgiz-Turgay nature reserve is also an important step in implementing WWF's ECONET project, which aims to see a system of reserves connected by ecological corridors and buffer zones. Such a system would allow local communities to benefit from the area's natural resources, while at the same time protecting the biodiversity.
"The nature of the Irgiz-Turgay area has long been affected by overgrazing, agriculture and commercial fishing," says Olga Pereladova, head of WWF's Central Asia Programme.
"Now these activities will be prohibited on part of the territory of the Irgiz-Turgay nature reserve and limited in the rest of the area."
The reserve also provides habitat to various species of waterbirds that use it for breeding and feeding. The area is also home to the globally threatened dalmatian pelican and white-headed duck during the molting season.
The lakes of the lower Irgiz and Turgay river basins were included in the list of wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1975.
Article has been adapted from a news release issued by World Wildlife Fund.