The Bukhara Deer Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) was developed under the auspices
of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in collaboration
with the Central Asia Programme of the World Wide
Fund for Nature (WWF). It became effective on 16 May
2002 and will remain open for signature indefinitely.
The species risks extinction from
a number of human threats. Artificial regulation of
the water regime, habitat destruction and illegal
hunting are the main reasons for the deer’s
alarming decline in numbers. Now only a few hundred
animals remain, scattered in a few small populations
in limited areas. Historically the species' area of
distribution included the river valleys of Amudaria
and Syrdaria and their river catchments.
The MoU area covers four Range States
in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan. These countries together with as three
cooperating international organisations (WWF, the
International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation
(CIC) and CMS), have signed the MoU. An up-to-date
list of the MoU’s Signatories is found in its
Agreement Summary Sheet.
The Bukhara Deer Action Plan is the
main tool for conservation activities under the MoU.
The plan provides for the restoration of the range
and number of the Bukhara Deer in suitable habitats,
the development of a transboundary network of protected
areas, legal protection measures and enhanced international
The MoU provides an intergovernmental
framework for governments, scientists and other groups
to monitor and coordinate ongoing conservation efforts.
The WWF Central Asia Programme is
carrying out a programme to support all existing natural
populations of Bukhara Deer and three projects to
reintroduce the Bukhara Deer in its historical habitats
of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Work has also begun
to restore Bukhara Deer habitats in Tigrovaja balka,
Tajikistan, with funding from the Disney Wildlife
Conservation Fund. Those efforts came about due to
the interest and activity of the Cervid Taxon Advisory
Group (TAG) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
(AZA) and the Minnesota Zoo in particular.
A plan to develop a system of protected
areas got its start with the Econet Central Asia project.
The project is a joint effort of the United Nations
Environmental Programme, Global Environment Facility
(GEF) and WWF. Much more work and funding is however
still needed to develop a transboundary network of
protected areas in riparian forests and to repair
environmental degradation along several rivers in
Nonetheless, the coordinated, systematic
efforts of governments and non-governmental groups
to save the Bukhara Deer have already started showing
significant results. The populations in all range
countries have stabilized, and have even begun to
grow. The global population of this rare deer is now
estimated at about 950 animals versus 350-450 a few
years ago. And many people living in Central Asia
now recognize the Bukhara Deer as a national treasure
of global importance.