RARE ANIMALS OF SYUNTKHASARDAG STATE NATURE RESERVE AND WESTERN KOPETDAG

In the state policy of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, great attention is paid to the issues of conservation of the nature of our Fatherland. One of the amazing corners of nature is the western borders of the Kopetdag, within which various species of animals inhabit. The Syunt-Khasardag State Nature Reserve carries out a lot of work on studying the ecosystem and rich biodiversity of this region. Here you can find such species of mammals as brown bear, leopard, striped hyena, honey badger, kulan, urial and goitered gazelle, included in the Red Data Book. The reserve carries out systematic control, collection of information and care for their protection and increase.

Brown bear (Ursus arctos L., 1758) – In our country, bears are found very rare, in the limited territory of the Koytendag and Kopetdag mountains. It is included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011), as well as in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) (2008). In 1980, a female bear with her cubs was seen in the ManeChache section of the Eastern Kopetdag. There is information that in the 1980s a bear was found twice in the upper reaches of the Chendyr. In the spring of 1996, the bear migrated from Iran to the valley of the Etrek River. In the recent years, according to the results of the control works carried out by the employees of the Science and Reserve Protection Department, bear tracks were d i s c o v e r e d , and in October 2020, the bear itself was found in the deciduous valley s o f Sumbar.

Leopard ( P a n t h e r a pardus L., 1758) – is a valuable animal included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan  and the Red List of IUCN (2008). It is spread mainly in the Kopetdag, in the Balkan Mountains and on the Badkhyz Elevation. The territory of the Syunt-Khasardag reserve in the Western Kopetdag is the main habitat for leopards. The presence of 17 leopards in the reserve and in the adjacent territory was registered. The reserve plays a significant role in increase of their number and spread in the region.

Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena L., 1758) – is also included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011) and the IUCN Red List (2008). The habitat of this species is located on the territory of Turkmenistan, therefore, the protection of the population in our country is of great importance. The main boundaries of the spread of the hyena are the southern and eastern regions; its penetration into the northern regions is being controlled. The main habitat is mountainous areas. The hyenas are also found in the reserve and in the adjacent area, where about 40 individuals are numbered.

Honey badger (Mellivorea capensis Schreber, 1776) – this type of fauna is found mainly in flat areas and low mountains, as well as it can be found in open gorges and low mountains of the Western Kopetdag. However, in all habitats, they are small in number, included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011) and the Red List of IUCN (2008). In the recent years, they are also found in the middle belts of the low mountains of Torgai, Gulmach, in the Khojagala and Purnivar valleys, which means the stability of its numbers.

Kulan (Equus hemionus Pallas, 1775)– is one of the rare animals listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011) and the Red List of IUCN (2008), in the middle of the last century the species was preserved only in the Badkhyz Elevation. After foundation of the Badkhyz State Nature Reserve, its total number was increased. In the 80s of the last century, in order to return kulans to the places of their extermination in the past, they were released in the Western Kopetdag. Inhabiting in the region, remote from the buffer zone, creates obstacle to increase the total number of the kulans. Despite this, it was determined that at present there are about 20 kulans outside the territory of the Syunt-Khasardag State Nature Reserve. The reserve workers carry out systematic control over them.

Goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa Guld., 1780) – it is entered in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011) and the Red List of IUCN (2008). In the past, goitered gazelles were widespread in the Western Kopetdag and were found in the lower belts of the mountains, in the hills and valleys. At the end of the last century, only a small number of gazelles survived in the areas of the region difficult of access. In order to increase their total number, work is being carried out in the reserve on special breeding in the nursery and further release to nature. Since 2003, painstaking work has been carried out to migrate island gazelles from the Ogurjaly Preserve of the Khazar State Nature Reserve. Their natural habitats are located outside the western borders of the Syunt-Khasardag State Nature Reserve, and currently, there are about 180 individuals there. The employees of the reserve carry out systematic control.

Yusup Sariyev,

Syunt-Khasardag State Nature Reserve of Environment Protection Service of Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan

23.05.2021