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Kazakhstan and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are to jointly launch a program to reintroduce Turan tigers to the Central Asian state, the government's press service said on Friday.
Central Asian Turan tigers were exterminated in the 20th century. Ecologists say the restoration project includes bringing in Russian Amur tigers as they are genetically identical to Turan tigers.
"For this purpose, we will establish a unique preserve of the kind in our country in the southern part of the Lake Balkhash area," the Kazakh government press service said.
Lake Balkhash in southeastern Kazakhstan, one of the largest in Asia, is the original habitat of the Turan tiger.
"We have agreed that the WWF and the Ministry of Environment in Kazakhstan will draw up a comprehensive program to reintroduce the tiger in the area around Lake Balkhash," Igor Chestin, director of WWF-Russia, said after a meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov.
Masimov said Kazakhstan was ready to finance a substantial part of the program, WWF-Russia said.
At 350 adults, Russia has the world's largest population of endangered Amur tigers.
Speaking at a Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg last November, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to share its tiger "families" with Kazakhstan and Iran to help restore the tiger population in these countries.
MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti)
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