Wild ass (news) release

Long anticipated, long awaited, and finally here: six Kulans have left the borders of their adaptation enclosure, stepping out into the wide unknown of Central Kazakhstan. This moment is both the fruit of dedicated work and the seed of future conservation goals. What do we mean by that? Let’s rewind:

Over the course of the last three years, the small Kulan herd at “Alibi” Reintroduction Center grew to a total of six, with four of them originating from southern Nature Reserves, and the remaining two being born within the acclimatization enclosure. On-site caretakers supported the Kulan through cold winters with additional hay and constant monitoring. Last summer, experienced veterinarians from the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) fit satellite collars to two young Kulan mares, thus increasing the number of collared animals to four out of six. The collars are set up to transmit an accurate location signal twice a day. This cleared the path to freedom: telemetry tracking would allow us to keep caring for the wild asses also outside the fences.  



On August 18th, the gates opened – but the Kulans remained within the enclosure. It took them eight whole days to take the leap into the wild. Once outside, there was no holding back. The group split into two subgroups and within a few days, they moved 80km to the Southwest. After a few weeks, however, they all returned and remained close to their former home, within the protected territory of the Altyn Dala State Nature Reserve. Recently, a pair ventured 60 km further north and seem to have found a spot to their liking close to a wide river.



These are not the only animals to have been released into the wild. We receive signals from another free-roaming Kulan stallion which left the acclimatization enclosure earlier, and with reports of sightings from trusted local herders of several uncollared wild asses – the subadult Kulans that were released in 2018 – we are able to keep an eye on the ten animals we have released so far.

We are pleased to witness the Kulans exploring and reclaiming the grasslands. Apparently, they are coping well with the harsh climate and are in good condition and health. Later this year we intend to bring more Kulans from the nature reserves of Southern Kazakhstan to join these pioneers in Central Kazakhstan’s vast and beautiful steppes. 


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