Dawn is still two hours away, and the hunters Gulchoro Maatkerimov, Turar Kazakbaev and the main researcher of the Chon-Kemin Park, Taalaibek Kozhomkulov, are already on their way. Sacks of grain and salt, bales of hay were loaded onto the horses.
– The road is long, so we went out at night, – Taalaibek Kozhomkulov explained to the RG correspondent. – We need to have time to design the food at lunchtime and at the same time check the camera traps. By the way, great tool. They were installed several years ago with the help of the German Union for Nature Conservation (NABU) to monitor animal migration. The devices are of great help in the fight against poachers. These “comrades”, unfortunately, are not afraid of either frost or deep snow. For the sake of a trophy, they go to any trick and wait for the prey when the beast goes to feed.
According to Taalaibek Kozhomkulov, there are now more than a hundred deer, several dozen roe deer and ibex in the Chon-Kemin reserve. Animal feed is harvested in the summer. The rangers cut tree limbs, cut grass, buy grain and salt.
– If winter is already gradually receding in the valleys of Kyrgyzstan, then it will remain in the mountains, – says Taalaibek Kozhomkulov. – During the day, the thermometer rises to -15, but at night it sometimes drops to -30 degrees. Snow in the mountains melts, at best, by the end of March. The other day there was heavy rain, and now where the feeders are placed, you can’t even get on the coolest SUV. And the smell of exhaust gases scares away animals. They also have a keen sense of smell.
After a snowfall, snowdrifts in the mountains grew in some places up to 80 centimeters. In such conditions, it is very difficult for deer and roe deer to move. The rangers have to clear the approaches so that the animals can reach the feeders.
– The animals are used to the fact that food appears again and again in the same place, and they constantly walk nearby, waiting for the rangers, – explained Turar Kazakbaev. – Do not approach – animals are cautious and timid. Its activity is observed in the dark. We don’t have many hunters, so from time to time the hunters help place the food. Salt is very important for animals, especially now, when the body is weakened by winter, so its laying is carried out regularly throughout the reserve.
In the Bakai-Ata district of the Talas region, in turn, rangers feed not only wild artiodactyls, but also pheasants. These birds here at one point practically disappeared. It was possible to restore, albeit partially, its population at the cost of enormous efforts. Now environmentalists are fighting to increase the number of rare birds.
“When it’s hot, we protect the pheasant from poachers, and in winter we save it from starvation,” Bekmurza Ashimov told the Regional Logging Department of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision. – And now in the Bakai-Ata region there is an action to feed pheasants. We do it together with the community of hunters and fishermen in the region. Birds need food the most. Winter is a great test for them. Insects, fruits and berries hibernating under the snow. From morning to night, the birds are looking for at least some kind of food. Soft and warm plumage protects from cold, but not from hunger. During snowfalls, blizzards and severe frosts, birds starve and die in droves. So we try to equip as many places for feeding as possible.