There were two drivers seen around a national park during the night time in search of Asiatic wild ass, known locally as kulans in order to capture those. Kulans are known as the zebras of Asia who used to roam on a massive territory from Syria to Mongolia but now their populations are fragmented and vulnerable.
Kulans in Central Asia are found in danger. These drivers who tried to capture the Asiatic wild ass are the Kazakh rangers. The driver tried to save from the pits and ravines and could barely see in the dark. Suddenly the lights of another car flashed in the distance and after a long silence, someone said a "No". These animals had disappeared a century ago and as per the operation, these animals are to be introduced as the steppes of central Kazakhstan. In some areas, people hunt these species mainly for their meat and skins due to which they now inhabit only 3% of the territory. Kulan population in Kazakhstan is considered to be around 4,000 and are mostly found in the Altyn Emel national park in the country's south-east. However, now scientists are in favour of relocating a group of healthy animals in the range of 1,500 km (932 miles); from Altyn Emel to Altyn Dala or the Golden steppe hoping that kulans will be able to create a new population in Altyn Dala since the Altyn Emel Park is too crowded for them. Dr John Linnell, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research stated that "This is a huge landscape of steppe, which is approximately as big as France and almost totally devoid of human habitation". In the previous year the first group of nine kulans was moved to Altyn Dala but many more animals were relocated in order to maintain a sustainable population. Also, a recent operation was conducted to capture the donkey-like animals which were not as per plan. Initially, the rangers were not able to even get close to the animals as the cars hit holes and pits due to darkness. The rangers however keep calling one another on the radio, but all their attempts to herd the animals failed. "We didn't have enough cars to chase," Albert Selimgereyev, a co-ordinator at the Association for Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan complained. Not only had this but even the strong wind created problems making it difficult for the kulans. But establishing the animals again would involve a lot of planning and efforts like building boxes, the capture equipment, paperwork and permissions and many more. However as BBC joined the mission, the weather was not suitable on night it was too windy; the next night it rained and then a bright moon, which failed the mission. This is a big challenge but still the scientists are determined to continue the work and come back next year. Chris Walzer, a veterinarian from the Wildlife Conservation Society said “There is one big lesson from this failure”.
By: Anuja Arora