SOS CENTRAL ASIA

SOS CENTRAL ASIA

From Lindsey Perkins

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Central Asia may  be considered synonymous with vast open landscapes by many because it holds some of the world’s largest intact grasslands and semi-deserts, but it also harbours some of the largest and highest mountain ranges. Due to the sparse vegetation and water sources, many of the resident animal species have adapted to a migratory life style, crossing large distances to find fertile feeding and breeding grounds. However, railways, fences, pipelines and other linear infrastructure bisect migration routes and prevent animals from reaching feeding grounds for example. Simultaneously, poaching, overhunting and illegal wildlife trade are on the rise due to increased demand for meat, trophies, horns and other parts. In addition, increasing livestock density causes competition with wildlife over scarce food resources, while land conversion for agricultural purposes reduces the quality and availability of suitable habitat. Similarly, climate change is exacerbating these threats.

We will focus on two species living in these Central Asian countries: the Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), which inhabits mostly grassland and desert habitats up to 2,700m elevation, and the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) found at elevations ranging from 500m to 5,800m in shrub-land, forest and rocky habitats.

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