ORIENT already wrote about the international project to reintroduce a small herd of Turkmenian kulan to the steppes of central Kazakhstan. At the end of October 2017, a first group of nine animals was released into an acclimatization enclosure on the edge of the Altyn Dala protected area in central Kazakhstan. Here they were stabled in a large purpose-built reintroduction centre over the winter. It is now six months later and the group has just been released into the wild.
The kulan thrived over the winter and all were in good condition when released. Indeed, the kulan at first seemed reluctant to leave their “home” of the last six months.
All the animals have been marked with numbered ear-tags and adult mares equipped with GPS collars, enabling to monitor their progress. At present, the kulans are intensively exploring new habitats.
It is planned to release a further 30 animals between autumn 2018 and 2019. This is an important step towards achieving the project’s over-arching goal of doubling the range of kulan in Central Asia and significantly increasing its global population.
This project is coordinated by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) and implemented with the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan in partnership with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds and Frankfurt Zoological Society. Veterinary support is provided by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and the Wildlife Conservation Society.