Increasing the number of tiger’s prey is a crucial step in the reintroduction of tigers, which is why the release of 61 Bukhara deer in July 2021 is a significant development. These deer have been extinct from the Southern Balkhash Region for the last 100 years.
Nine deer have been fitted with satellite collars to allow the team to monitor the deers’ movements and alert them if they stray too far from the release site. They also help the team to identify different feeding sites and places for camera traps that could help with further monitoring.
But reintroducing prey species like Bukhara deer is only one example of how the Ili-Balkhash region is being prepared for the return of the tiger. Habitat preparation, such as restoring forests, is also progressing well and will be the foundation in securing a future for tigers in Kazakhstan.
Throughout the reintroduction process, WWF-Russia is consulting and partnering with local communities. Together they will develop ways to prevent potential human-wildlife-conflict as well as prepare compensation schemes in the event livestock are lost to tigers.
“Locals are proud to know that deer are returning after more than 100 year of extinction. During the translocation the locals greeted the trucks containing the Bukhara deer. And in the second winter of the programme one of the group of deer prefered an area near a village which is a hunting area. The locals knew about them, but there was no attempt to kill the deer.” - Grigory Mazmanyants, Director of the Central Asia Programme for WWF-Russia.
The Ili-Balkhash region has the capacity to support 120 tigers if there is enough prey to sustain them which highlights the significance of releasing Bukhara deer in the region.
This incredible programme shows that with political will and support of local communities conservation efforts can bring back the roar to Asia once more.
The tiger reintroduction programme is run by WWF-Russia in cooperation with the Committee of Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
20 August 2021