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COMMUNITY BASED CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF MOUNTAIN UNGULATES IN TAJIKISTAN

Authors:
Galemys 22 (nº especial): 469-481, 2010
ISSN: 1137-8700
469
COMMUNITY BASED CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
OF MOUNTAIN UNGULATES IN TAJIKISTAN
STEFAN MICHEL
77 Lenin Street, Khorog, 736000 GBAO, Tajikistan. (st-michel@gmx.de)
ABSTRACT
Populations of Caprinae in Tajikistan have suffered from unsustainable use and habitat
degradation during the Soviet period (until 1991) and from intensive poaching during the years
of civil unrest (1992-1997). Nowadays hunting is controlled and restricted by the state, and is
completely forbidden for Red Book species as well as in national parks and strict reserves. In
the reality the state lacks the means for law enforcement, and poaching together with habitat
degradation caused by overgrazing and firewood collection prevent recovery of populations
and cause further decline. During the last two decades limited trophy hunting on Marco Polo
argali Ovis ammon polii in hunting blocks managed by private concessionaires created significant
financial means for state budgets and private business. In some areas concessionaires maintain
an effective protection system and nowadays highest argali numbers are found in these areas.
However a recently issued hunting moratorium challenges the sustainability of private argali
management and poaching because of sale of meat and skulls is increasing. No recent reliable
numbers are available on argali and estimates range between 1,500 and 15,000 animals. Tajik
markhor Capra falconeri heptneri and Bukhara urial Ovis vignei bochariensis have also been used
for international trophy hunting, but without link to any conservation management. Since few
years markhor is preserved in two private conservancies, one managed by a former poacher. The
scattered groups of few dozens Bukhara urials are lacking effective protection. In the southern
Pamirs urial O. v. vignei (?) is likely almost extinct. Numbers of ibex Capra sibirica remain low after
the sharp decline during civil war. In this situation a project for community based management
of mountain ungulates has been started in 2008 on the basis of a Tajik Non-governemental
organisation (NGO), supported by German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Zoological Society
for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP). The project collaborates with hunting
concessionaires, managers of private conservancies and supports the development of community
initiatives on wildlife management. In March 2009 a local NGO formed by former poachers
created the first community based conservancy focussing on protection and sustainable use of
ibex. Further similar private and community based initiatives are evolving for management of
urial and markhor. The project assists these initiatives in developing management and monitoring
systems as well as in fundraising for initial investments. Opportunities for sustainable use of the
target species and sharing of revenues for the needs of conservation and local development are to
be developed through policy dialogue and improvement of regulatory framework.
Key words: poaching, habitat degradation, trophy hunting, community conservancies, Tajikistan.
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
RESUMEN
Conservación basada en la comunidad y manejo de ungulados de montaña en Tayikistán
Las poblaciones de caprinos en Tayikistán se han visto afectadas por el uso insostenible y
la degradación del hábitat durante la época soviética (hasta 1991) y por una caza furtiva intensa
durante los años de guerra civil (1992-1997). Hoy en día la caza está controlada y limitada por el
Estado, y está totalmente prohibido cazar las especies incluidas en el Libro Rojo, así como las que
están en parques nacionales y reservas. En realidad el Estado carece de medios para hacer cumplir
la ley y tanto la caza como la degradación del hábitat causada por el sobrepastoreo y la recolección
de leña para combustible, impiden la recuperación de las poblaciones y agravan la degradación
del hábitat. Durante las dos últimas décadas, la restricción de la caza del trofeo de argali de Marco
Polo Ovis ammon polii a los cotos de caza gestionados por concesionarios privados, ha generado
importantes ingresos para el presupuesto del estado y para el sector privado. En algunas áreas los
gestores mantienen un sistema de protección efectiva, concentrándose en estas zonas las mayores
poblaciones de argali. Sin embargo, una moratoria de la caza aprobada recientemente supone
un reto para la sostenibilidad de la gestión privada del argali, ya que aumentado la demanda de
caza para la venta de carne y cráneos. No hay datos recientes fiables sobre el número de argalis
existentes, oscilando las estimaciones entre 1.500 y 15.000. El markhor de Tajik Capra falconeri
heptneri y el urial de Bukharan, Ovis vignei bochariensis también han sido objeto de la caza de
trofeo internacional, sin ningún tipo de gestión para su conservación. Desde hace unos años,
el markhor se ha conservado en dos reservas privadas, una de las cuales está gestionada por un
antiguo cazador furtivo. Los grupos dispersos de pocas docenas de uriales carecen de protección
eficaz. En los Pamures del sur es probable que el urial O. v. vignei (?) ya se haya extinguido.
El número de íbice sibírico Capra siberica ha permanecido bajo después de la declive acaecido
durante la guerra civil. En este contexto, en 2008 se inicio un proyecto comunitario para el
manejo de las poblaciones de ungulados de montaña, por parte de una ONG de Tayikistan con el
apoyo de la German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) y la Sociedad Zoológica para la Conservación
de Especies y Poblaciones (ZGAP). El proyecto colabora con los concesionarios de la caza, los
gestores de las fincas privadas y apoya el desarrollo de iniciativas comunitarias sobre la gestión
de la fauna silvestre. En marzo de 2009, una ONG local formada por los antiguos cazadores
furtivos, estableció la primera reserva comunitaria orientada a la protección y el uso sostenible
de los íbices. Hay otras iniciativas parecidas, tanto privadas como comunitarias, para la gestión
del urial y del markhor. El proyecto apoya estas iniciativas en la creación de sistemas de manejo
y de supervisión, y en la obtención de ingresos para las inversiones iniciales. El diálogo político y
la mejora del marco regulador fomentarán las oportunidades para el uso sostenible de la especie
seleccionada y la distribución de los beneficios para cubrir las necesidades de conservación y
desarrollo local.
Palabras clave: caza furtiva, degradación del hábitat, caza de trofeo, conservación comunitaria,
Tajikistan.
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
471
INTRODUCTION
Wild mountain ungulates so far have not been in the focus of development
cooperation in Central Asia, as they were hardly perceived as valuable resource
providing an economic potential for alternative sustainable land use. On the
other hand conservation projects so far applied usually “conservation against
people” focussing on protected areas, enforcement of laws prohibiting any
utilization of rare and endangered species and on public awareness and knowledge
raising, hoping this would convince people to refrain from habitat destruction
by unsustainable land use and from poaching. In the best case support of
alternatively livelihoods was included into projects to divert people from the
use of rare wildlife. In the practice these approaches let to an undervaluation of
the wildlife as a resource and widely neglected wildlife outside protected areas.
Wildlife is without economic value and neither law enforcement nor awareness
reached all people, thus poaching and habitat destruction remain rampant.
In this situation the Tajik NGO “Nature Protection Team” started a project
“Community based conservation and management of mountain ungulates in
Tajikistan” aimed at direct involvement of local people into protection and use of
the species for stimulating conservation efforts. The project started in April 2008
and is financially supported by Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species
and Populations (ZGAP, Germany), by Centre for International Migration and
Development (CIM, Germany) and by the Regional Programme “Sustainable Use
of Natural Resources in Central Asia” of German Technical Cooperation (GTZ).
The project cooperates closely with the Institute for Zoology and Parasitology
and the Pamir Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of
Tajikistan as well as with the state agencies in charge of nature protection.
MOUNTAIN UNGULATES IN TAJIKISTAN - SPECIES AND DISTRIBUTION
Two species in 2-4 subspecies of wild sheep are found in Tajikistan, the argali
Ovis ammon and the urial Ovis vignei.
Pamir argali or Marco Polo sheep O.a.polii, locally called “arkhar”, is widely
distributed in the highlands of the Eastern Pamirs of Tajikistan and adjacent areas
of the Pamirs, Pamiro-Alai and Karakoram in China, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
and Pakistan. The second argali subspecies is Severtzov’s or Kyzylkum sheep
O.a.severtzovi which is nowadays mainly restricted to Uzbekistan’s Nuratau
Mountains Range, bordering with the Kyzylkum Desert (Harris & Reading
2008). If a small isolated area in the Turkestan Range in Northern Tajikistan’s
Sughd Region is still inhabited by this rare argali could not be confirmed.
Abdusalyamov (1988) shows a distribution point of urial in this area, likely
referring to Severtzov’s sheep often considered belonging to urial (IUCN/SSC-
Caprinae Specialist Group 2000).
The second wild sheep, the urial, locally called “mesh” or “surkhak”, inhabits
in one subspecies, the Bukhara urial O.v.bocharensis, scattered areas in south-west
Tajikistan. Another urial distribution range exists in the Wakhan corridor in the
Southeast of the country. There in 2008 the project team despite intensive search
confirmed only one individual, but across the border in the Afghan Wakhan still
a small but sustainable population exists. The urials of this area may belong to
the subspecies Ladakh urial O.v.vignei (Michel 2009).
Two species of wild goats inhabit Tajikistan’s mountains. The Central Asian
ibex Capra sibirica is widely distributed in all mountain regions of the country.
In contrast, the Tajik markhor Capra falconeri heptneri is nowadays restricted to
a small distribution area in the Hazratishoh and Darvaz Mountain Ranges, but
is extinct in other areas of its former range.
Bukhara urial and Tajik markhor have their major population and
distribution areas now in Tajikistan. Only small numbers still exist in nearby
areas of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The majority of Marco Polo
sheep and the largest habitats of this subspecies belong to Tajikistan if a narrow
taxonomic understanding is applied, i.e. if the argalis occurring in Kyrgyzstan
north of the Fergana Range are considered as another subspecies, the Tien Shan
argali O.a.karelini (Koshkarev 2002, Baskin & Daniel 2003).
SITUATION OF MOUNTAIN UNGULATES POPULATIONS DURING SOVIET PERIOD
During the times of the Soviet Union (until 1991) hunting was strictly
controlled. Commercial hunting was a state monopoly while sport hunting was
possible for the members of state controlled hunting societies, based on a strict
permit. The most important characteristic of the Soviet wildlife management
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
473
system was the replacement of traditional hunting rules by strict formal state
control. At the same time a system of strictly protected areas (zapovedniks)
was established, where officially any economic activity was prohibited. In the
Tajik SSR in 1988 the first Red Book was published (Abdusalyamov 1988),
understood as a list of species under full protection. At the same time first
trophy hunting tours on Marco Polo sheep were organized for hunters from
western countries.
At the other hand the formally strict protection and regulation even under
the Soviet system were not entirely enforced. Violations of the rules for strictly
protected areas were rampant, e.g. illegal grazing, fuel wood logging and even
hunting took place. Harvest of wild animals by state enterprises was often not
sustainable. For instance, hundreds of urials were shot in Southern Tajikistan for
meat supply without caring about declining population numbers (pers. comm.
local hunters in Hazratishoh Range, 2008). The increase of livestock numbers
beyond carrying capacities caused habitat degradation. Some of the management
measures implemented in Soviet times nowadays would be considered at least
doubtful like the decimation and even extermination of carnivores. Turan tiger
Panthera tigris virgata went extinct and Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor
was extirpated in Tajikistan.
RECENT HISTORY AND CURRENT SITUATION
The recent situation of most ungulate populations is still influenced by
the impacts of intensive poaching during the years of civil war 1992-1997
and afterwards. The stop of supply with fossil fuel and electricity caused an
intensification of fuel wood collection largely affecting ungulate habitats and
forage. On the other hand the reduction of livestock numbers and the temporary
abandonment of remote pastures improved habitat conditions e.g. for Marco
Polo sheep. Nowadays hunting is formally controlled by the state and prohibited
for Red Book species (all mountain ungulates except ibex) as well as in national
parks and strict reserves. In the reality the lack of financial and personal means
make law enforcement difficult and widespread corruption let vanish the respect
for law and regulations. On the other hand there are private and community
based initiatives oriented towards sustainable use of mountain ungulates.
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
Limited trophy hunting on Marco Polo sheep in private hunting blocks with
an official annual take-off of up to 70 animals has created significant financial
means for state budgets (license fee per head approx. 12,000 USD) and private
business (USFWS 2008). Nowadays highest argali numbers are found in some
concessions due to their effective protection system. But the performance of
the concessions is diverse. In 2009 a two years hunting moratorium started,
challenging the sustainability of the private argali management. In the result
protection of hunting concessions is weakened due to lack of income from hunts
and thus poaching for sale of meat and skulls is increasing. In the Pamirs argali and
ibex are important sources of meat. Wisely managed, argali and ibex populations
could provide an alternative to livestock breeding in marginal areas. While the
potential of trophy hunting is obvious there might be as well a potential for a
sustainable use of these species for meat.
Tajik markhor and Bukhara urial have also been used for international
trophy hunting, but without link to any conservation management. Since few
years markhor is preserved in two private conservancies, one even managed
by a former poacher. Outside these areas poaching pressure is threatening last
remaining groups of markhor and the habitat became fragmented. The remaining
scattered groups of few dozens Bukhara urials are lacking effective protection and
are intensively poached. In the southern Pamirs the urial (here O. v. vignei?) is
almost extirpated.
After the sharp decline during civil war the numbers of ibex remain low
in most areas. In some valleys of the Western Pamirs ibex is still intensively
poached for subsistence, commerce and cultural purposes or sport. The low ibex
populations are a limiting factor for snow leopard and are believed to contribute
to livestock depredation by snow leopard.
PROJECT APPROACHES
The project’s focus is on conservation and sustainable use of the mentioned
mountain ungulate species. Central approach is the direct collaboration with
the immediate users - traditional hunters, local initiatives, private conservancies
and hunting concessionaires. But the project collaborates as well with scientific
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
475
institutes and state nature protection and forestry agencies and thus brings
together different interest groups. Policy dialogue and improvement of regulatory
framework are supported by provision of specific expertise and experience from
tests in model areas. A key issue is the support of the assignment of long term rights
and responsibilities to defined users for specific areas. Sustainable management
of wildlife should be stimulated through direct benefits for conservation and
rural development from the consumptive and non-consumptive use of wildlife,
as e.g. hunting tourism, subsistence and sport hunting and nature tourism. The
project supports the capacity development of local partners for enabling them
to manage their hunting grounds and wildlife stocks in a sustainable way. The
project is based on a long-term approach, started in 2008, funding is so far
secured until 2011, but further continuation is envisaged.
PROJECT ACTIVITIES AND FIRST RESULTS
The project team has conducted field assessments of population status and
distribution areas of all four target species. Distribution and status of markhor
and Bukhara urial were assessed in their key distribution areas in Tajikistan.
Additionally the transboundary urial population was investigated in the Wakhan
of Afghanistan. The situation of Marco Polo sheep and its management were
assessed in one hunting concession in the Eastern Pamirs. Based on the assessment
results and the identified commitment of users and local community members,
model areas where project activities are concentrated have been determined.
In the model areas traditional community hunters have been identified
and modified and a process of organization development and assignment of
hunting user rights was started. Through technical consultation, development of
institutional structures and support to the assignment of hunting areas, as well as
limited equipment support local user groups are enabled to participate actively in
sustainable wildlife management. The project is as well fostering the improvement of
management practice in private conservancies and concessions through assessment
work and political support of long-term legal use rights. So far management plan
development has started in markhor conservancies. The collaboration with one
hunting concession managing Marco Polo sheep is considered.
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
All observations are documented and the development of GIS based data
base has been started. The support of the development of a monitoring system
on mountain ungulates includes two components completing each other: the
development and testing of user based monitoring and the improvement of the
approaches applied in user-independent scientific monitoring.
A round table on hunting management was organized to intensify political
dialog between different stakeholders. Work on legal and regulatory framework
development has been started by conducting a comprehensive analysis of the
system in place. In a next step amendments and new legal documents will be
discussed and their development and passing will be supported.
First project results are encouraging. Knowledge was gathered about
distribution ranges, population status, formal and informal use systems and the
threatening factors of mountain ungulates. Three large model areas of 50,000 to
120,000 ha are determined and the collaboration with wildlife users and initiative
groups agreed. A team of young Tajik scientists from Tajik National University
and Academy of Sciences is established and their capacity is continuously
developing.
Most significant result so far is that three local initiatives of informal hunters
could be activated for the establishment and management of game management
areas for mountain ungulates. The NGO “Parchamin the Bartang valley has
established the first community based conservancy at an area of 47,000 ha
covering almost an entire watershed and assigned for five years. This group is
already successfully protecting and monitoring the ibex stock on their territory.
Numbers are increasing and snow leopard is now regularly registered. First legal
harvest may become possible in autumn 2010. The NGO “Yokuti Darshay” in
the Wakhan is currently in the stage of registration and area assignment. This
community based group plans the reintroduction of the locally exterminated
urial. The NGO “Muhofiz” at Hazratishoh Range conducted founding meeting
and plans to apply for assignment of territory for management of Bukhara urial
and Tajik markhor.
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
477
CHALLENGES AND UNSOLVED ISSUES, PERSPECTIVES
Despite the first successes there are several challenges and unsolved issues
putting at risk the projects long term impact. The long term assignment of
hunting areas to community based and private organizations and definite rights
and obligations are required for any stimulation of sustainable protection. This
is so far not sufficiently supported by the state nature protection and forestry
authorities and related legal frame work is weak. The sustainability of wildlife
management will depend on its economical viability. Tax exemptions on land
tax are needed for private and community based conservancies. The taxation
as pastures imposes too high costs for areas primary managed for conservation
purposes and encourages use for domestic livestock grazing which causes forage
competition and risk of disease transfer to wildlife. Permit fees are too high for
hunting by local people and in some cases even for hunting tourism. Community
based organizations should get permits for free or at reduced fee for the use
in accordance to confirmed management plans of animals for their own use
(subsistence hunting). Adequate benefit sharing systems are not yet established
and must provide sufficient means for protection as well as for social economic
development of local communities to ensure their support and discourage
violations. The number of equitable users must be in accordance to population
size and carrying capacity of the managed areas. This is sometimes difficult if
too many people in the expectation of individual profit join community based
organizations. As long population numbers and/or legal framework not allow the
profitable use of animals initial investments might be required as well as possibly
some compensation of protection efforts by the user groups.
In the perspective the project will further work on the development of
monitoring systems and the conduction of joint surveys in collaboration with
state nature protection agencies, scientific institutes and wildlife managers. As far
as the responsible state organs are interested and willing to cooperate, the project
team would participate in the development of an improved legal and regulatory
framework. This includes the development of appropriate benefit sharing systems
and possibly the joining of CITES by Tajikistan.
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
The most efforts will further be made for the support of local initiatives in
the development of institutional structures and the establishment of protection
and management systems (e.g. management planning). The collaboration with
private hunting concessions in the development of sustainable management of
areas and populations will be continued and possibly extended to new areas and
new partners.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author wishes to thank all members of the project team who dedicate their energy and
work time to the survival of Tajikistan’s mountain ungulates, often under very difficult and risky
circumstances: Munavvar Alidodov, Zayniddin Amirov, Malika Farmonbekova, Firuza Illarionova,
Ismoil Kholmatov, Mirzo Mirzomamadov, Nuzar Oshurmamadov, Vladimir Shakula, Akhmet
Umetbekov, and Dilshoda Yakubova. He is also very grateful to the Directors of the Institute
for Zoology and Parasitology and the Pamir Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences
Abdusattor Saidov and Ogonazar Aknazarov for their support. Special thanks are to be expressed
to the wildlife managers of the private companies “Morkhur”, “M-Sayed”, “Murghab”, “Vakhan
and “Nuri Kuhiston” as well as to the members of the community based NGOs “Parcham”,
“Yokuti Darshay” and “Muhofiz”, for their willingness to cooperate, to share information, their
contributions to the field work and their dedication to the conservation and sustainable use of
ibex, markhor and wild sheep. The author acknowledges that leaders and staff of the Committee
for Environmental Protection under the Governement of Tajikistan increasingly cooperate with
the project, provide advice and support the testing of new approaches in the model areas.
REFERENCES
Abdusalyamov I. (ed.) 1988: Red Data Book of the Tajik SSR. Dushanbe.
Baskin L. &. Daniel K. 2003. Ovis ammon. Pp: 263-276 In: Ecology of Ungulates.
Harris R.B. & Reading R. 2008. Ovis ammon. In: IUCN 2009 Red List of Threatened
Species. Version 2009.2. www.iucnredlist.org.
IUCN/SSC - Caprinae Specialist Group 2000. Workshop on Caprinae taxonomy
Ankara, Turkey, May 8-10, 21 pp.
Koshkarev E. 2002. Valutnye barany i ministerskie volki Kirgizii. Okhrana dikoy prirody
nº 1(24) (http://www.biodiversity.ru/publications/odp/archive/24/contents.html)
Michel S. 2009. Distribution areas, population status and prospects for conservation
management of urial sheep Ovis vignei in the Wakhan valley of Afghanistan. Working
report of the project “Community based conservation and management of mountain
ungulates in Tajikistan”. Nature Protection Team, Dushanbe. 32 pp.
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
479
USFWS 2008. United States Department of the Interior-Fish and Wildlie Service. Final
respond to Freedom of Information Act Request “Request for the DSA/DMA
determinations and biological opinions made for import of Argali from Mongolia,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2005, 2006 and 2007”.
Income from trophy hunts on
old rams of Marco Polo sheep
can stimulate conservation.
(Photo: Atobek Bekmurodov).
Herd of Marco Polo
sheep rams in a hunting
concession in the Eastern
Pamirs. (Photo: Atobek
Bekmurodov).
Project expert and leader
of community based group
during search for markhor.
(Photo: Vladimir Shakula).
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Galemys 22 (nº especial), 2010
Meeting with informal hunters
in Southern Tajikistan.
(Photo: Stefan Michel).
Horns of ibex are deposited
at a holy place in the Wakhan
valley. (Photo: Stefan Michel).
Horns and skins of poached
markhor and urials were
confiscated by project partners
and Tajik border police.
(Photo: Stefan Michel).
Mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
481
Skulls of ibex and Marco Polo sheep, collected in
the Eastern Pamirs. (Photo: Atobek Bekmurodov).
Management planning by
members of community based
organization, assisted by
project experts.
(Photo: Stefan Michel).
... The most affected areas seem to be those where argalis are already absent due to poaching and grazing, but as easy accessible teresken stands are already overused the pressure increases in areas that overlap with argali and ibex habitats. (Michel and Muratov 2010) In Uzbekistan's Nuratau Range argali prefer shrubs for resting and hiding, thus fuel wood cutting causes habitat destruction in addition to overgrazing (Michel, personal communication 2012(Michel, personal communication , based on observations 1993(Michel, personal communication -2006. ...
... As a result the presence of people makes large areas unsuitable as argali are shifting to areas with suboptimal habitat conditions. Reduced fitness and high-energy losses caused by fleeing from people can make the argali more vulnerable to predators, diseases and weather and by this the risk of mortality increases and reproduction declines (Michel and Muratov 2010). Where poaching is controlled, argali are more tolerant to livestock, humans and other disturbance. ...
... Forage competition increases where herders have cut hay on alpine meadows. Thus the use of pastures and haymaking areas without due consideration of the needs for conservation of wild ungulates is the second most important limiting factor for the population numbers and trends of argali (Michel and Muratov 2010). ...
... Research carried out in the Eastern Pamir to date has shown that in this semi-arid area wetlands are of paramount importance as reservoirs of meltwater from permafrost and glaciers, as resting places for migratory birds, as grazing grounds for rare herbivory species (such as Marco Polo sheep) and in general as refugia crucial for biodiversity conservation [15][16][17].Furthermore, they are critical for local inhabitants, who depend on fresh water sources and hence settle in the immediate vicinity of wetlands that are intensively used in livestock farming. ...
... Moreover, an extended growing season (according to [28] 15-20 days longer than 15 years ago) in the Pamir Mountains may promote the growth of more generalist plant species at higher altitudes, inducing further structural and functional alternations of halophytic communities on lake terraces and flood plains. Such changes can be devastating for the wetlands, especially in the Eastern Pamir, where their role as refugia and biodiversity hotspots (including endemic species) is exceptionally important [15][16][17]. ...
Article
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The eastern part of the Pamir Mountains, located in Central Asia, is characterized by great climatic continentality and aridity. Wetlands developed in this hostile region are restricted to spring areas, terraces of shallow lakes or floodplains along rivers, and provide diversified ecosystem services e.g. as water reservoirs, refugia for rare species and pastures for domestic cattle. These ecosystems are particularly susceptible to climate changes, that in the Pamir Mountains result in increased temperatures, intense permafrost/glacial melt and alterations of precipitation patterns. Climatic changes affect pasture management in the mountains, causing overutilization of sites located at lower elevations. Thus, both climate and man-induced disturbances may violate the existing ecological equilibrium in high-mountain wetlands of the Eastern Pamir, posing a serious risk to their biodiversity and to food security of the local population. In this context, we sought to assess how environmental drivers (with special focus on soil features and potential water sources) shape the distribution and diversity of halophytic plant communities developed in valleys in the Eastern Pamir. This task was completed by means of a vegetation survey and comprehensive analyses of habitat conditions. The lake terraces and floodplains studied were covered by a repetitive mosaic of plant communities determined by differences in soil moisture and salinity. On lower, wetter sites, this patchwork was formed by Blysmus rufus dominated salt marshes, saline small sedge meadows and saline meadows with Kobresia royleana and Primula pamirica; and on drier, elevated sites, by endemic grasslands with Hordeum brevisubulatum and Puccinellia species and patches of xerohalophytic vegetation. Continuous instability of water sources and summer droughts occurring in the Pamir Mountains may lead to significant structural and functional transformations of described wetland ecosystems. Species more tolerant to decreased soil moisture and/or increased soil salinity will expand, leading to alterations of ecosystem services provided by the Pamirs’ wetlands. The described research will help to assess the current state of the wetlands and to predict directions of their future changes.
... In addition, the Dhole ( Cuon alpinus), recorded from the Eastern Pamir, is a rare species classified with the category EN. It has to be noted that the information on the population densities, dynamics, etc. of these animals is lacking and requires further study (Schaller and Kang 2008).The greatest hazards for most of those animals remain pouching, including also commercial trophy hunting, overgrazing and competition from livestock, and overexploitation of teresken ( Eurotia spp.) by the local people-all leading to the severe shortage of food for ungulates ( Schaller and Kang 2008;Michel and Muratov 2010;Navruzshoev et al. 2013). Heavy winters with high snowfall are also considered detrimental to the populations of Argali, Urial, or Siberian Ibex ( Capra sibirica), as the animals are often isolated in areas depleted in food (Michel and Muratov 2010). ...
Chapter
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Pamir is a highland region in Central Asia (the highest ranges exceeding 7,000 a.s.l.), characterized by extreme climatic conditions (cold desert biome), isolation and exceptionally short growing season. Therefore, a unique landscape and nature characteristics developed in this region. Moreover, it is an important area of mountain glaciers with their total surface estimated at 8,000 km2. However, with increasing temperatures, glaciers recede, profoundly changing hydrological conditions in Pamir. Furthermore, current land and water resources management practices, are threatening the long‑term preservation of this unique area as a space both for human use and wilderness.
... In Tajikistan, a local NGO supported by international organisations was formed by former poachers to create the first community-based conservancy organisation focused on the protection and sustainable use of ibex. Other private community-based initiatives are evolving for management of animals such as the urial and markhor (Michel, 2010). ...
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This paper reviews and discusses the state of research on sustainable land management (SLM) in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and analyses the interface between research and action. The authors methodically selected 131 publications for analysis. These publications included academic literature published in journals from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, academic literature published in journals outside the region, and grey literature from the post-independence period (late 1991 to mid-2012). Soviet-era literature is both highly relevant and abundant and therefore warrants a separate analysis. Using the Global Land Project (GLP 2005) analytical framework, we analysed the distribution of the selected publications across the components and links in a socio-ecological system. Excerpts that exemplified the main contribution of each publication were extracted and further categorised based on emergent themes. These themes were used to organise a narrative synthesis of the publications. The publications are also analysed based on other variables such as publication types, geographic focus, altitudinal zone and stakeholder level. These analyses aimed to identify research gaps. A brief comparison with Björnsen Gurung et al’s (2012) state of the art assessment of research needs for sustainable development in the world’s mountains was also made. Analyses of the research-action interface involved attributing each publication to one type of knowledge based on the knowledge categorisation of system knowledge, target knowledge and transformation knowledge (ProClim 1997) and assessing the research type (disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, or transdisciplinary research). Further, the organisational affiliation of authors was analysed to understand the degree to which collaboration occurred between authors affiliated with local and international organisations as well as between authors from different types of organisations, including academic and non-academic organisations. The research-action interface was also analysed through a stakeholder feedback session held at the September 2012 Central Asian Mountain Partnership Forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the theme of which was SLM (CAMP Forum 2012). There is a strong emphasis in the literature on the impact of changes in land use and management on states, properties and functions of ecosystems, however, there is little research on the implications this in turn has on ecosystem services. This is the opposite finding of a similar analysis focused on pu blications at the global scale (Björnsen Gurung et al 2012). Another key gap was the lack of research on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan regarding the influence of global factors on social and ecological systems, despite social, economic and political integration into global structures since the Soviet collapse and the increasing influence of climate change. Our analysis disaggregated the findings of academic literature published in the region and international academic literature and revealed stark differences. These differences are partly attributed to the legacy of the late Soviet-era principle of “rational use of land resources,” which fit the centrally planned economy, but lacks approaches for market and decentralised resource governance. Finally, the emphasis of research on system knowledge, the lack of transdisciplinary research, and the critical feedback of stakeholders at a regional sustainable land management forum suggest that actionable SLM research on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is rare. Recommendations are made for targeted, applicationfocused, multi-stakeholder research and knowledge sharing, including local and international researchers as well as practitioners, policymakers and land users.
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The desiccation of the Aral Sea since 1960 has been a notorious and well-documented example of anthropogenic ecological devastation. Equally ominous has been the devastating impact on the livelihoods and health conditions of the human populations inhabiting the Aral Sea region. As a socio-ecological crisis, the Aral Sea’s recession has demonstrated interrelationships between humans and the biophysical environment. An important societal dimension through which to access these relationships is the Aral basin’s regional economy. The Aral crisis itself has largely been a result of the large-scale Soviet-era water diversion projects whose impetus was primarily the production and export of cotton. The Aral Sea Basin today remains a globally important cotton production and export region. The most important economic activities devastated by the crisis have been fishing and fish processing. Once defunct enterprises, these activities have only recently been revived with the recent rehabilitation of the northern Aral Sea in Kazakhstan. This chapter examines the post-1960 developments of the cotton sector within the Aral basin and the fishing sector in the Aral Sea itself. Nature-economy linkages inherent in these sectors inform broader generalizations regarding human-environment interrelationships in the Aral Sea Basin today.
Valutnye barany i ministerskie volki Kirgizii
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Koshkarev E. 2002. Valutnye barany i ministerskie volki Kirgizii. Okhrana dikoy prirody nº 1(24) (http://www.biodiversity.ru/publications/odp/archive/24/contents.html)
Distribution areas, population status and prospects for conservation management of urial sheep Ovis vignei in the Wakhan valley of Afghanistan. Working report of the project "Community based conservation and management of mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
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