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GOOD NEWS FOR THE MIGRATORY WATERBIRDS FROM KAZAKHSTAN

In November last year the Committee on Forestry and Wildlife of Kazakhstan has introduced a ban on spring hunting, which covers in the period 16th February to 14th June. In addition there has been reduction of the bag limit per hunter per day, which now reduced to 5 birds.

In this way from spring 2017 there will be no hunting during this part of the year. In September 2016 the Institute of Zoology and ACBK were asked by the Committee on Forestry and Wildlife about the possibility for closure of the spring hunting and they reviewed the issue and prepared a scientific justification for the issue. This is a sensible and responsible act in order to sustainably manage the game resources. Similar proposal with justification has been drafted long ago in 2014 by ACBK, but at that time there were no actions taken by the authorities to ban spring hunting.

Why the spring hunting ban was necessary? The worst situation is linked to waterbirds. Formally the hunting should focus only on males and with the use of live and plastic decoys use. However hunters when they were in the hunting estates and if the wardens control is weak and not implemented they used to shoot all type of species and of both sexes, including geese and swans. This is considerable impact on the flyway populations and practically it impacts the breeding season for the species, which cross Kazakhstan on the way to their northern breeding grounds.

Some of the arguments derived by the experts to ban the spring hunting were:
- current numbers of the breeding and spring migrating swans, geese and ducks in the country have declined more than two folds compared to the population figures in the mid 1990s;
- objective data evidence of the real numbers (split by species) occurring in Kazakhstan  are not available, as they are only reported in blocks of “geese” and “ducks” and in addition numbers are drawn using variable methods, incomparable and status of species is unclear;
- forming of the breeding pairs for many species does occur in the wintering grounds and this endangers the success of the breeding season if one of the partners is killed and could compromise it;
- in the south of the country the hunting period overlaps with the breeding period for many of the species and this results in a heavy disturbance, which severely disrupts the breeding and survival of local populations;
- inability to secure effective control of the hunting process by the warden system of most of the hunting estates because of shortage of staff, qualifications and transportation.;
- in spring the threat to disperse bird flu infection outside the hunting estates is much higher as it has reservoirs in the southern countries and is spread by migrating birds.

Original news in Russian at ACBK site

migrating waterbirds in Kazakhstan - © Alexey Timoshenko
Geese were not on the hunting list in spring, but were regularly killed
Hunters with a boat inside lake Alakol-Aksuat - © A. Timoshenko