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.