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Houbara bustard

© Elena Muhina
© Sergej Pole

Population Monitoring houbara bustard in Kazakhstan

The objective of the project is to conduct simultaneous monitoring of MacQueen’s Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) population on their migrating routes and nesting places in spring and autumn on Kazakhstan’s territory. The idea of this project belongs to nature conservation agencies and bird research centre of UAE.

Their main goal was to find a way to reduce the negative impact of falconry on the MacQueen’s Bustard population and ensuring the conditions for its sustainable development. At the very beginning the project was executed under a straight bilateral contract between UAE and Kazakh Academy of sciences. Later Kazakh Anti-Plague Institute (with its network of regional stations and seasonal teams) was proved to be the best agency to organize a large-scale monitoring. But the partners came across numerous organizational problems, and because of that WWF Central Asian programme was asked to be an executing agency for this project.

We don’t just run the project for 4 years already, but do our best to have stronger nature conservation outcomes, then it was planned by conducting monitoring on its own. (Technically monitoring is conducted by a simultaneous work of 14–16 groups in April-May and in September-October; practically all species area in Kazakhstan is covered by regular observations). Identification of seasonal concentrations of the species (during the nesting period, pre-migratory concentrations) allowed to develop proposals on the special protection of the key areas. They are included in the Econet scheme, which is being developed for all the region.

Besides that, cooperation of MacQueen’s Bustard monitoring project, saiga conservation project, as well as RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) project on Sociable Lapwing, allowed to create a coalition of international NGOs, and to initiate creation of a new huge protected territory «Altyn Dala» with an area of 6,3 mln ha. This initiative is seriously supported by the relevant nature conservation bodies of the republic of Kazakhstan.