Asiatic Wild Ass Returns to Kazakhstan’s Central Steppes
For the first time in more than a century, kulan—the Asiatic wild ass—are now roaming the central steppes of Kazakhstan.
On Oct. 24, a first group of nine animals was released into an acclimatization enclosure on the edge of the Altyn Dala protected area in central Kazakhstan. The animals had been transported 1,200 kilometers (about 745 miles) by helicopter from Altyn Emel National Park in southeast Kazakhstan. They will be released into the wild in early spring. This is the first step in a multi-year project that aims to restore the full range of large herbivores to this unique area of steppe habitat.
Kulan once ranged across the Middle East and Central Asia, from the Mediterranean to the east of Mongolia. During the last two centuries, their range has been dramatically reduced to less than 3% of their former range. Although the species is doing relatively well in Mongolia, the Central Asian subspecies is classified as endangered and only persists in small isolated populations in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
The current project aims to move 30-40 kulan from Altyn Emel to the central steppes during the next three to four years
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