Results of work package III
Elaborating justification for the establishment of a new desert protected area in Atyrau region (Kazakhstan)
1st ACBK expedition to Atyrau region (Kazakhstan) in September 2017
In September 2017, ACBK, national CADI partner in Kazakhstan, led an expedition to Atyrau region (South-East part of Zhylyoi district). Main purpose was a first assessment of the biodiversity in view of a possible establishment of a protected area in North-Ustyurt and surrounding area. Dr Mark Pestov (Ecological centre „Dront“, Russia), Professor Dr Alexey Laktionov (State University Astrakhan, Russia) and Vladimir Terentyev (CADI Coordinator, ACBK) participated in the expedition.
In preparation of the trip, a tentative cooperation agreement for the establishment of a new protected area has been achieved between ACBK and the head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management of the Atyrau region and the head of Zhylyoi district.
It is proposed to establish a nature park that also comprises parts of the “Sholkara” field. “Sholkara” is known for findings of shark-teeth and bones of fish which occurred in Tethys Ocean for approximately 40 million years ago. Also Donyztau chinks (North-Ustyurt) and the small plateau “Zheltau” should be part of the new protected area.
As a result of the trip, a high ecological value of the region has been confirmed and serves as a justification for a conservation status of this area. For the first time after a long time on the territory of Zheltau plateau the occurrence of Ustyurt urial (Ovis vignei arkal) as well as Argali (Ovis ammon) has been confirmed. The Saiga antelope could be sighted as well as rare bird species like Steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), Eurasian Eagle owl (Bubo bubo), Black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) – or reptiles. With regard to the flora of the region, a variety of rare species was identified. Among them were ferns of the genus Cystopteris or wild tulips (Tulipa schrenkii, red-listed species in Kazakhstan).
2nd ACBK expedition to Atyrau region (Kazakhstan) in May 2018
From 7-16 May 2018, a second complex expedition to the South of Atyrau region (Oblast) took place within CADI.
Purpose of the expedition was to assess the biodiversity of the region with focus on vertebrates and higher plants. The explored territory included the chink Donystau with adjacent section of Ustyurt Plateau, the small plateau of Zheltau and the upland Sholkara.
The results of the expedition once again confirmed that the territory deserves the status of a protected area, at least at regional level. After completing field research, the specialists visited Atyrau, where they met with Mr. Arystan, Head of the regional Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. During the meeting, the members of the expedition informed about the results and confirmed their willingness to continue cooperation on the establishment of a regional nature park in the project area.
Mr. Arystan, in turn, reported that the Akim (governor) of the region positively assesses the initiative to establish a desert protected area in the Zhylyoi region and plans to visit the project area personally to make a final decision on this issue.