Caspian Seals are endemics of the world’s largest inland body of water. During the last century the population has been decimated by loss of habitat, intensive use of the sea resources and industrial pollution. It is less than 100,000 Caspian seals remained and the population declines 3-4 percent per year. The conservation of the Caspian seals is a difficult task because the Caspian sea, the largest saltwater lake on Earth is divided between Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. The seals are migratory mammals and conservationist campaigns done by one country may be totally ignored by other countries. International cooperation is crucial for saving the endangered Caspian seal from extinction.
There is some hope that it will be done as Asel Tasmagambetova, Kenes Rakishev and other prominent figures have entered the fight. Kazakhstan has joined the force by founding the Center for research and rehabilitation of the Caspian seal. The Center was created as collaboration project of Central-Asian ecology research institute and «Sabi» NGO funded by Asel Tasmagambetova. The Center aims to research the ways to save seals as a whole and by saving individual animals that were suffered from debilitating conditions, diseases, hunger and accidents.
Asel Tasmagambetova and Kenes Rakishev involvement
Asel Tasmagambetova, the founder and president of «Sabi» fund views her mission as saving the iconic seals from the extinction and restoring the population. She explains it in depth.
«At first we perform a lot of research work. The Center has been equipped with the modern diagnostic laboratory. We collect the bank of the living and deceased animals. The second part of our activity is to rehabilitate the sick seals and to return them to the nature. Volunteers, veterinary doctors, biologists and ecologists are helping us to achieve the goal. The third part of our work consists of facilitating the international cooperation and educational activity» – told Asel Tasmagambetova.
The Center is well equipped to get the job done. It sports six pools, water testing equipment, blood test kits, chemical and veterinary tools. It was made possible by involvement of Asel Tasmagambetova“s husband, well-known entrepreneur Kenes Rakishev. The list of social projects made possible due to Kenes Rakishev involvement is really extensive.
Kenes Rakishev social and environmental activism
During the Naubyzbay region emergency he delivered aid to people with disabilities and those who have multiple children. Kenes Rakishev has built a school – all by own funding alone. He funded «Tayburyl» tuition for gifted students. He is actively involved in startup movement.
One of the remarkable events of the Kazakhstan life during last six years is the «Build your business» contest. More than two thousand participants entered the contest, 41 ideas was funded by «Sabi» fund. In total $1,076,000 was spent. In 2019 additional $210,000 was distributed among eight winning projects.
Kenes Rakishev involvement in «Sabi» NGO and the Center for preservation of Caspian seals is aimed to protect the unique animals and pass them to next generation. Extensive work is performed to maintain good relation with the fishermen of Caspian sea.
«We met with the fishermen. If they spot a sick seal they call our contact center which is open 24/7. We have an ATV at our disposal and we are able to pick up the animal to investigate the cause of the sickness, heal wounds or infection. We will rehabilitate and feed it. Finally we will release him to the sea» – says the Central-Asian ecological research institute director Adylkhan Tovasarov.
Kenes Rakishev on the “Sabi” plans
«Sabi» fund is totally sure that there is not much time left to save the seal. Hunting on the Caspian seal is prohibited since 2006 and in 2008 the seal has made his way in the international Red Book. Establishing the Center to protect the seal is only a first step in right direction. Thanks to Kenes Rakishev the Center will purchase additional equipment and broaden its activity.
«We took a long way before establishing the Center. A lot of preliminary work has been done. Four years the institute, with help of France, Russia and Iran has monitored the state of the seal population in Kazakhstan part of the Caspian sea.» – commented Kenes Rakishev.
The Center will be used as a base for educational activities for future volunteers and environmental activists interested in saving the Caspian seal from extinction. Yet another important task for the Center is educating the young generation to protect the nature. The current program is established for the next five years. Three major expeditions, two documentaries and many science publications are planed.