Biodiversity in the desert
In May, the Uzbek Ustyurt region's biodiversity was assessed for the first time since Soviet Union times: from 9th to 29th May, the Michael Succow Foundation conducted an expedition on the biodiversity situation in the Southern Ustyurt of Karakalpakstan. The expedition in the framework of the project "Protected Areas in Uzbekistan - Model Regions for Sustainable Development" was made possible by the Manfred-Hermsen-Foundation's generous support and the cooperation with the University of Greifswald and its Central Asian partner universities within the CABNET project. In the district Karakalpakstan there has not been such a complex scientific biodiversity assessment for several decades.
The honey badger (Red List Uzbekistan) was taken on video for the first time and officially reported in Karakalpakstan for the first time since 30 years ago.
Five working groups (mammalogists, entomologists, geobotanists, herpetologists, and ornithologists) systematically explored the area. For the first time in the history of independent Uzbekistan, camera traps were used. Next to the participating Uzbek senior scientists, nine students and PhD candidates from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Germany profited from applying this and other field methods.
The journey led to amazing insights in the biodiversity and the state of habitats for resident and migrant animals in the region. The amount of animals perished in a natural way can be interpreted as a sign that there is not much poaching.
The expedition's goal was to identify the regions with especially high protection priority and to develop concepts for the protection of biodiversity afterwards. This includes an ecologically sound use of natural resources. The rare species of Karakalpakstan are increasingly endangered, for example by the consequences of the Aral Sea disaster, the construction of roads and railway tracks, and the exploitation of oil and gas reserves. Help us to protect the unique biodiversity of this region!