The 8th CADI Newsletter is available! Here we keep you informed about the ongoing activities and results of our project.

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The Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI) has launched its first Call for abstracts for participation in the International conference on cold winter deserts in December 2021 in Tashkent.

The call aims to foster international collaboration in raising awareness of the importance of cold winter desert ecosystems. Successful applicants will have an opportunity to present their research paper during the conference or display their research outcomes at the poster session organized within the conference.

Selected abstracts will be published as a collection, and full papers be included in conference proceedings.

The deadline for submission of abstracts was extended until 15 August 2021. Selected abstracts will be announced not later than 15 September 2021. Authors will be requested to submit full papers by 15 October 2021.

Call for abstracts (English)

Call for abstracts (Russian)

The problem of mass deaths of animals in ditches used by farmers to protect their fields from cattle was first identified in May-June 2019, during CADI-expeditions to the Saryagash district of the Turkestan region of Kazakhstan. In the same year, the CADI team prepared articles and reports in the media. Appeals were sent to state and regional bodies to eliminate the threat to animals.

During an expedition in the Turkestan region in May 2021, a team of experts from the IUCN Save Our Species project accidentally reencountered the above-described problem: 286 animals were found in the ditch a length of 7 km, most of which were still alive and had been brought to safety. Through the support of the Akimat of Turkestan region, the problem again caused a great response from the public: A TV report was broadcasted, volunteers got involved in saving the turtles, meetings were held with staff of the District Land Committee and the Area Inspectorate for Wildlife Protection.

From June 7 to 11, a group of three people – Maxim Yaganin (Institute of Zoology), Gaisha Nurpeiskyzy (Institute of Zoology), and Vladimir Terentyev (ACBK) – carried out further research on the ditches as part of the CADI project. The main task was to obtain accurate location data of the ditches. The data obtained by analyzing satellite images of the Turkestan region confirm the total length of the ditches over several hundred kilometers.

In the meantime, the local authorities have arranged for the backfilling of all ditches. Thus, during the field visit, the first backfilling of ditches could already be observed, and further animals could be saved from certain death.

The Leopard Tay Shery was found dead 250 km north of Ustyurt Nature Reserve. The circumstances of his death are still to investigate finally. However, its disappearance leaves us behind sad. Tay Shery was the ignition spark for entering the Persian Leopard in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan to elaborate an Action Plan in Persian Leopard conservation in Kazakhstan and facilitated transboundary scientific cooperation among Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

According to the results of an announced contest, the leopard, which was named Tay Shery, was repeatedly marked in different places of the Ustyurt Nature Reserve from September 2018 to February 2021 with the help of camera traps. But, unfortunately, since this time, he was not sighted, and we all began to worry about its fate. So now we have sad certainty.

Last picture of Tay Shery in Nature Reserve Ustyurt in February 2021

Two workshops on monitoring and managing Turkmenistan’s desert protected areas were held at the end of May under the CADI project.

The first theoretical part of the monitoring workshop on May 29-30 was focused on the monitoring of flora and various fauna groups – birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Proposals for developing methods and routes for monitoring in the desert protected areas Bereketli Karakum, Repetek and Kaplankyr were developed. Turkmenistan has proposed these protected areas as clusters of the planned transnational World Heritage nomination “Temperate Deserts of Turan” to be submitted in 2022.

The workshop was organized in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan. The Scientific Directors and other staff of a total of nine nature reserves of Turkmenistan participated in the workshop.

The theory was followed by practical field trips to the three protected areas to assess the monitoring routes on-site and determine their inspections’ times and frequencies. Once agreed, these routes will form the basis for future research and monitoring activities, in line with UNESCO regulations for World Heritage Sites.

In a further CADI workshop on May 31 in Ashgabat, the status and further elaboration of the management plans for the Bereketli Karakum, Repetek, and Kaplankyr desert protected areas were discussed. The 5-year management plans are a mandatory part of the nomination dossier ” Temperate Deserts of Turan. “

The management workshop was attended by representatives of the Turkmen Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and its subordinate structures: the Environmental Protection Service, the Land Resources Service, the State Nature Reserves of Turkmenistan (Bereketli Karakum, Repetek, Kaplankyr, and Köpetdag), and the National Secretariat for UNESCO in Turkmenistan.


The results of many studies carried out by Soviet scientists are still kept in paper form, and therefore not yet available to the general public. To introduce some of the work to a wider audience, the СADI team, for the first time, has scanned relevant articles from the international scientific-practical journal “Problems of desert development” from 1967 to 1999.

The journal “Problems of desert development” is a publication of the National Institute of Desert Flora and Fauna of Turkmenistan within UNEP and ESCAP. The journal is one of the few periodicals globally covering the most important research and development experiences in arid lands and an important source of information on deserts.

The articles are available on our website in Russian with abstracts in English.

The development of a NAMA in Uzbekistan for the conservation and restoration of desert habitats in Central Asia started with a kick-off workshop on 29 April. About 30 participants from politics, international organizations, scientific institutions, and NGOs took part in the Online-Workshop. The development of a NAMA is supported by the Michael Succow Foundation within the CADI project.

NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) is a financing instrument under the UNFCCC. It supports partner countries in taking ambitious measures against climate change.

Leading ecologists and politicians are involved in the NAMA development in Uzbekistan. The aim is to restore natural Saxaul vegetation communities in the Turanian deserts. These represent a significant sink function for greenhouse gas emissions in their extent but have been severely degraded by unsustainable use, especially by grazing and firewood extraction. According to scientific studies by the University of Greifswald, only about ¼ of the Central Asian Saxaul communities remain.


The film crew of the YouTube channel „Vse Kak U Zverei“ has released a new video clip: „Aral See: Is there life after death?“. This new edition will focus on one of the biggest human-made environmental disasters, the Aral Sea’s disappearance. The reasons for this, the consequences and effects of the drying up of the lake, and current developments are presented.

Check out the video here.

The Michael Succow Foundation within the CADI project enabled expeditions to the deserts.

CADI’s efforts to protect the Persian Leopard in Central Asia have been successful: as of 5 April 2021, the Persian Leopard is finally included in the Red Book of Kazakhstan.
The discovery of the Persian leopard in the Ustyurt State Nature Reserve (Kazakhstan) was made, among other things, with the help of camera traps, which the leopard has regularly walked into since 2018.
Based on the data, a scientific justification for the inclusion of the Persian leopard in the Red Book of Kazakhstan and an action plan for protecting the leopard in Kazakhstan were developed by the ACBK. The action plan is to be integrated into Kazakhstan’s legislation shortly.
With the new addition, the Kazakhstan Red Book now includes 400 plants and 133 vertebrate species.

Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor)

The Interim Regional CADI Secretariat’s new coordinator and assistant coordinator have started working in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The Secretariat is expected to keep the momentum of project interventions in the member countries directed to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems in cold winter desert areas. The CADI project will be backstopping initial activities foreseen within the Interim Regional CADI Secretariat in 2021.

Among the team’s immediate tasks are reaching an agreement on the composition of the National CADI Secretariats in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as developing a five-year Plan of Work for the Interim Regional CADI Secretariat.

The basis for the Secretariat was laid during a Regional Workshop in Tashkent in 2019. Here, participants from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan expressed their strong commitment to establishing an Interim Regional CADI Secretariat, which was expressed in the Tashkent Declaration.