|Date||9 Aug 2004|
Kazakhstan is the eighth largest country in the world, situated at the centre of the Eurasian Continent, south of Russia and northwest of China. Occupying a territory of over 2,700,000 square kilometres, the deserts, plains, lakes and mountains of Kazakhstan make it one of the most geographically varied and biodiversity rich countries in Central Asia. The steppe and forest-steppe of the Kustanai region are particularly significant as one of the most important areas in the northern hemisphere for the conservation of rare birds of prey, with 20 species, four of which are endangered or threatened, breeding here.
The wildlife of north-central Kazakhstan has been strongly impacted by human activity in the last fifty to seventy years. For raptors found in this area, the spread of agriculture and cultivation of previously pristine habitat, together with bird trapping, the robbing of eggs from nests, and a fall in the distribution and density of the prey species suslik (ground squirrel), are all thought to have been contributory to a decline in raptor numbers. Despite these fears, a lack of research has meant that the reasons for the decline have not been fully investigated, so hampering effective conservation efforts.
This exciting project aims to collect data on the current population status and trends of rare raptors (including the White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Saker Falcon, Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Harrier) in key regions of North-central Kazakhstan, and to develop an ongoing monitoring program. As well as being essential to the development of a targeted conservation plan, the data will be used to identify Important Birds Areas (IBAs) and other priority areas crucial to recovery of raptors in this area of Kazakhstan. By maintaining an open dialogue with stakeholders, the government, and local people through education initiatives and direct involvement, it is hoped this project will successfully achieve a greater commitment to the preservation of Kazakhstan’s unique habitats and wildlife.
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