Wildlife and tourism in Tajikistan

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Project approach and components

A long-term multi-facet project

The focus of our project is on the four mountain ungulate species found in Tajikistan – ibex, markhor, urial and argali (Marco Polo sheep), in the context of the ecosystems inhabited by them and the socio-economic context. Central approach is the direct collaboration with the immediate users – traditional hunters, local initiatives, private conservancies and hunting concessionaires. But the project collaborates as well with scientific institutes and state nature protection and forestry agencies and thus brings together different interest groups. By involving young scientists and experts from state agencies local capacity has been developed and the local partners continue on their own the work.

(c) Stefan Michel

The project supports the development of sustainable management systems by local private organizations and local community-based NGOs in pilot areas. A key issue is the support of the assignment of long-term rights and responsibilities to defined users for specific areas. The project supports the capacity development of local partners, especially in protection and monitoring as well as management planning for enabling them to manage their hunting grounds and wildlife stocks in a sustainable way. With financial support by GIZ, Panthera and other partners the project provided essential equipment ofr rangers to local organizations managing conservancies.

Incomes created from wildlife through “eco”-tourism and sustainable hunting, both by hunting tourists and local people, are strong incentives for the protection, rehabilitation and sustainable use of the ungulate populations and the conservation of the habitats they rely on. Also other biodiversity like snow leopards, other carnovores, birds of prey and many other species benefit fromn the community-based conservation management. The tourism opportunities proposed are all directly connected to areas where the project is active and the managing organizations of which have joined the Hunting and Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan (H&CAT):

In the Pamirs (GBAO):

In Shuroobod (Khatlon):

Tourism in these wildlife conservancy areas supports the creation of local income as well as awareness for the value of intact ecosystems and wildlife. However, non-extractive use, i.e. “eco”-tourism, cannot cover the expenses for the management of the conservancies. That’s why sustainable hunting tourism on the basis of quota set very conservatively through monitoring of wildlife populations is considered as an important source of revenues for conservation management and for the support of local socio-economic development. The latter motivates other community members to support the protection of wildlife by the community-based private and NGO-run conservancies.

The project also supported the development of a political and legal framework by provision of specific expertise and experience from tests in model areas. In the frame of the GIZ project the Parliament of Tajikistan and government agencies have been assisted in the development of a law "On hunting and game management", in the revision of related legislation and supported the accession of CITES. Policy dialogue continues and recently the Commitee for Environmental Protection under the Government of Tajikistan together with GIZ, the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), CIC, Panthera and Conservation Force hold a round table on hunting management to intensify political dialog between different stakeholders (Documentation in English and Russian), which adopted a resolution (English, Russian and Tajik).

The project supported and supports the enhancement of the information available on the numbers, conditions and trends of the target species’ populations by conducting surveys in the model areas and in other key habitats of mountain ungulates. Monitoring consists of two elements: user-independent monitoring conducted by scientists as well as user-based monitoring conducted by the managers of distinct areas themselves. Observation data are to be systematically stored, managed, analysis and made accessible via a data management system under use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

The project started in April 2008 and was implemented with GIZ support until September 2014. Currently the project is continuously supported by various donors and by voluntary work of dedicated Tajik and foreign experts. The carriers of the project on the ground are the community-based organizations and family-run small enterprizes managing wildlife conservancy areas. These organizations have jointly established the Hunting and Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan (H&CAT). 

Main achievements

(c) S. Michel - (c) A. Gaude - (c) M. Atabaev - (c) M. Alidodov

The project has assisted in the establishment of five community-based NGOs and continues supporting them. These NGOs and three family-run small enterprises, asisted by the project, all together now manage effectively about 300,000 hectares of wildlife habitat. Within these conservancy areas, thanks to local people refraining from illegal hunting and because of effective protection against poaching, populations of mountain ungulates have recovered. Accoring to most recent survey data (2015/2016) the conservancy areas host more than 2,000 Asiatic ibex, at least 1,450 markhor, more than 500 Marco Polo sheep and about 50 urials. Furthermore, the conservancy areas provide safe habitat for other wildlife, e.g., about 20 snow leopards, several Turkestan lynx, Tien Shan brown bear, wolves, small carnivores, golden eagles, vultures, and many other species.   

Remarkable is the grown tolerance by local perople towards snow leopards, and the support of their protection. E.g., in fall 2016 in one of the areas a snow leopard was released alive by the owner of several goats and sheep, which this cat had  killed in a poorly protected corral. Panthera assists the participants of the project in predator-proofing of livestock corrals in their communities.


(c) Panthera

The conservancies are visited by various tourists and a limited nunber of hunters, which provide additional income for local rural households, funding of nature protection activities and community development measures, e.g. road repair, development of irrigation and drinking water supply, school development and educational activities and many more. 

The approach of community-based wildlife management and the experience from the Tajikistan Mountain Ungulates Project are now replicated in neighboring Kyrgyzstan in currently (2016) five areas in Chuy, Issykkul and Osh Regions.