While searching for a rare lizard species in southern Kazakhstan in May-June 2019, CADI fellow Marina Chirikova and her team faced a cruel mass death: Deep and steep ditches, dug by farmers to protect their fields from cattle, became the burial place of hundreds of animals, mainly turtles, snakes, and lizards, including many species of the Red Book of Kazakhstan or species protected under CITES.

An analysis of satellite images revealed that such trenches are widespread in the region and can be estimated to be more than 350 km long. The number of animals that die here every year is therefore likely to be alarming.

The finds of the expedition were documented and scientifically processed, e.g. in a publication. On this background, the relevant state authorities were contacted with the request to stop these basically illegal border demarcation practices. Unfortunately, these efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

The CADI team and its partners in Kazakhstan, including the ACBK and the Institute of Zoology, are now trying to put mass mortality on the political agenda with a new initiative, including a letter from the Michael Succow Foundation to the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan and dissemination of the issue in the mass media and social media.

Publication by CADI fellow Chirikova M.A., in co-authorship with Zima Yu.A., Pestov M.V., Terentjev V.A.: About the problem of mass death of reptiles in barrage trenches in South Kazakhstan. In: Selevinia, 2019, Vol. 27, p. 111-114

Online article on DAZ Asia (May 25th, 2020): Reptilienfriedhof im Kornfeld

Online article on karavan.kz (May 18th, 2020): В смертельной ловушке: как животные гибнут в муках в фермерских траншея.