Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 16 May 2002: The Ministers
for Environment of Kazakhstan,
Tajikistan and Turkmenistan,
meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, today concluded a new agreement
to save the Bukhara Deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus) from
the brink of extinction.
agreement, opened for signature at the Meeting of the Environment
Ministers of the Central Asian Region, was developed under
the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme's
Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS), in collaboration
with the Central Asia Programme of the World Wide
Fund for Nature (WWF). Uzbekistan will sign the agreement
after the approval of its Cabinet of Ministers.
The species risks extinction from a number of human
threats. Artificial regulation of the water regime, habitat
destruction, as well as illegal hunting and poaching are
the main reasons for the Bukhara's alarming decline in numbers.
Historically the species' area of distribution included
all river valleys of Amudaria and Syrdaria and all their
river basins. Now only approximately 350-450 animals remain,
scattered in a few small populations in limited areas.
The Central Asian peoples in former times called the Bukhara
Deer "Hangul" (the King's flower). It was almost as holy
as the cows are in India. The species was under the special
protection of the feudal kings. But the Soviet Union's collapse
in 1991 exposed Central Asians to great economic hardship.
With no economic prospects, individuals turned to poaching
to survive. Poaching has increased to levels that are detrimental
to the deer. For example, in a prime area for the deer,
the Tigrovaja Balka zapovednik (a strictly protected area),
the deer population decreased between 1990-2000 from about
400 individuals down to only 8 animals.
signing the "Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation
and Restoration of the Bukhara Deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus)"
the Central Asian Ministers acknowledge their countries'
shared responsibility to conserve and restore the Bukhara
Deer and the habitats upon which the animals depend. They
recognise that they must take concerted, coordinated action
to immediately prevent the disappearance of the remaining
The Chairman and host of the meeting, the Minister of Nature
Protection of Tajikistan, HE
Mr Usmokul SHOKIROV, declared at the signing
ceremony that he hopes that the MOU and its comprehensive
Action Plan will create an incentive for the Range States'
authorities to do more for the species and to cooperate
with their neighbours, while attracting international agencies
to provide substantial assistance. He thanked the UNEP/CMS
Secretariat and the WWF Central Asia Programme for the thorough
preparation of the MOU and Action Plan. He said the maintenance
of viable wild populations in the region is more than just
nature conservation: the deer are part of the identity of
the Amudaria and Syrdaria river basins, incorporating tradition,
history and symbiosis of man and nature.
Mr Arnulf MÜLLER-HELMBRECHT, the Executive
Secretary of CMS, highlighted that the Bukhara Deer migrate
across boundaries of the Central Asian Range States. Therefore
they can be only effectively conserved by concerted action
of the respective States. The fact that the Agreement will
also be signed by cooperating international organisations
- WWF, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation
(CIC) and the UNEP/CMS Secretariat - demonstrates the international
concern about the loss of Central Asia's biodiversity, and
its global importance. More importantly, their signature
demonstrates that the international community will assist
the Range States in their efforts to conserve the Bukhara
Olga PERELADOVA, the Director of the WWF Central
Asia Programme (pictured on the right), referred to the
project work already started or under development in some
of the Range States with the active assistance of WWF. However,
she made clear that much more must be done to achieve the
species' survival in the wild.The President of the CIC,
Mr Dieter SCHRAMM, declared the CIC's willingness
to commit itself to the rescue efforts: "Only if we first
succeed in returning the species to a favourable conservation
status, can there then be a possibility for opening the
Bukhara to sustainable use in a shared manner among the
Range States in order to contribute to the economic development
of the region and the welfare of the local communities.
The CIC feels committed to help achieving this goal".
The Environment Ministers of the Central Asian States are
meeting from 15-17 May to discuss how to organise their
regional consultation and cooperation. They will also take
decisions on the Central Asian Environment Programme prepared
under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme.
The MOU will perfectly complement the programme.
D-53175 Bonn, Germany
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Central Asia Programme
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