Launch of First Global Initiative to Map Ungulate Migrations Comes at Crucial Time for Kazakhstan’s Saiga Antelope
An international team of 92 scientists and conservationists has joined forces to create the first-ever global atlas of ungulate migrations. Detailed maps of the herds’ seasonal movements will help governments, indigenous people and local communities, and wildlife managers to identify current and emerging threats to migrations and guide their protection.
The Global Initiative for Ungulate Migration (GIUM), developed in partnership with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) – a UN treaty, was launched in the May 7 issue of the journal Science in the commentary “Mapping out a future for ungulate migrations”.
Global focus on importance of ungulate migration highlights threat to Kazakhstan’s saiga antelope
Conservation groups emphasize that this is not a question of halting development in the interest of wildlife. They suggest that an alternative win-win solution exists and call on the ministry responsible to urgently rethink the project. Research undertaken by the coalition of conservation groups found that there are viable alternative routes based on existing roads that would connect larger settlements to smaller ones so that more people would be reached by the road, and would completely avoid the rangelands of Betpakdala's saiga antelope.
Should the road move forward on its current routing the impact on saiga antelope could be devastating. “If the road acts as a complete barrier, it will force saiga to remain in habitat with insufficient food sources, leading to reduced reproduction, poor health and inevitably causing deaths,” says Paul Hotham, Fauna & Flora International’s Eurasia Regional Director. “Even if the road acts only as a partial barrier, it would create greater concentrations of animals in a smaller area, increasing risk of disease transmission and affecting health and reproductive success.”
Numerous conservation successes were made possible through migration mapping. With the new GIUM atlas there is potential to inform and redirect infrastructure plans –like the road in Kazakhstan – to protect ecological connectivity at the point of conception, rather than once plans have already advanced. “For over a decade the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative has conducted extensive field research to study the migration of Kazakhstan’s critically endangered saiga antelope – long-term movement data that will now contribute to the atlas,” says Albert Salemgareyev, ACBK's leading specialist.
“For over a decade we have conducted extensive field research to study the migration of Kazakhstan’s critically endangered saiga antelope – long-term movement data that will now contribute to the atlas” Albert Salemgareyev, ACBK's leading specialist
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) is an internationally operating conservation organization based in Frankfurt, Germany. Our goal is to protect the natural diversity of species in important ecosystems across the globe – in partnership with and for people.
- About Fauna & Flora International (FFI) (www.fauna-flora.org): FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and that enhance human well-being. Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide, FFI saves species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international wildlife conservation organisation and a registered charity.
- Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) is a national non-governmental conservation organization. Our mission is the protection of nature in Kazakhstan and the engagement of people for its protection. Weuse science and modern technologies to further our aims and we work closely together with the public, national and international partners.