Wild foxes... are in Almaty?

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Those days, when some foreigners have sincerely believed that on the Almaty streets you can easily meet a camel, are gone. The southern capital of Kazakhstan is getting known in the world as beautiful and modern city. But no one could ever think of the fact that in the center of a one and half -million metropolis is a place where wild foxes live.

Maybe it is a zoo?

Yes, of course, foxes live in Almaty zoo, but there they live in the special enclosures. But in fact, wild foxeslivein our oldest BotanicalGarden, which is located almost in the citycenter.

Guests of Almaty and its residents are interested:how municipal Botanical Garden looks like today?

The rumor has that half of itshuge territory was used for construction of cottage town, and the rest is in ruins and overgrown with weeds (which actually was not confirmed). I had to visit the Botanical Garden many timesto see it with my own eyes and get answers to intriguing questions. During one of his visits, Gulnara Tokbergenovna Sitpaeva, its director, asked Sergei Vladimirovich Chekalin,the head of the laboratory of Dendrology, to do a guided tour for me.

Turned out, that Sergey is a very interesting storyteller; he is a candidate of biological science,who loves the object of his research,and a man of great erudition. To his lab relates a collection of woody plants in the open ground, those that can be cultivated in the city; plants that grow in the greenhouses are related to the covered ground.

Inside of the greenhouse, I was surprised by many plants, like any human being who came there for the first time. As it turned out, a greenhouse consists of several departments, where presented more than 1,000 species of exotic plants - palms, bananas, bamboos, cactuses, tropical plants and many others.

Foxes are quiet here

Our Botanic Garden always created a very good impression on me. Maybe, I have not seen better? It romanticallycombines dense thickets with manicured areas of garden flowers, whichvarieties are the result of scientific work.

Denseness of some places is very impressive, you can even get lost, though, for a short time. Anyway, you willhave time enoughto completely forget the fact that you are almost in the city center and not in a forest. When pheasants with cackle flush from the nearest bushesyou start to believe that it is quite possible to see a wild fox here.

Sergey confirmed that foxes were seen hereand not one group.

- Sergey,haveyou seen them?

- Yes, I saw - he said. And other employees saw themas well.

- Have you bredthem here on purpose?

- No, we have not. Apparently, they came from the mountains; it is not so far away.

- Sergey, I wonder how foxes manage to survive in your garden?

- Garden, as youcan see,is not small - 108 hectares. And here is food for them, mice and pheasants. So that they can live here quietly, without causing any harm to the main inhabitants of the garden - plants.

"Basho!..." – said Basho

During a walk through the garden, we could not ignore an interesting plot, which stood out in the overall picture, reminding a little corner of Japan. Of course, I asked:

- Sergey, but this innovation appeared here recently;bridge, pavilions, flower gardens, flower beds are the parts of the real Japanese rock-garden. How you got the idea of such project?

- A Japanese company JTI (Kazakhstani branch) suggestedthe idea and offered the sponsorship. Project and design of the garden were developed by the Washington University.

- Basho - I said. ("Basho" – it roughly translates from Kazakh as "that's how it is!...").

Garden will bloom, pheasants will fly, and foxes will run!

It was nice to hear about the achievements of the Botanical Garden since Kazakhstan got its independence:

- First, we coped with the difficult times of post-Soviet collapse, and only we retainedthe status of specially protected natural area in the CIS - said Sergey. - Now we are trying to develop further. We have designed and built the first seed bank of the wild relatives of the cultivated plants. We grew 45 new varieties of apples and apricots, and also 19 varieties of roses - all of it after 2000.

In general, collection consists of hundreds of varieties of garden roses, dozens of varieties of peonies, asters, tulips, lilacs, varieties of trees, medicinal and fruit crops and other plants - informed us GulnaraTokbergenovnaSitpaeva,the director of the Botanical Garden.

The garden has plants departments: flora and ecology, wood, ornamental plants, tropical, food and medicinal, reproduction and protection of exotic species, and the laboratory of physiology and plant biology. Scientists develop a problem of plantsintroduction and acclimatizationin Kazakhstan, analyzingplant resources of the Republic; they identify and cultivate economically valuable species. They transferred for planting of greeneryin the city over 100 species, 46 forms and 15 varieties of plants of different geographical origin.

Our Botanical Garden coordinates work of 5 botanical gardens in Karaganda, Zhezskazgan, Altai, Ili and Mangyshlak. It conducts an exchange of scientific literature, planting stock and seeds with 108 botanical gardens from 48 countries.

Almaty Botanical Garden is located in the southern part of the Almaty at altitude 856 - 906 meters above sea level. It is the main botanical garden of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, founded in 1932, total area is 108 hectares. It gained the status of a research institutionin 1967. Last year, we celebrated the 80th anniversary.

Later, I learned that Vesnovskiy settlement (XI – beginning of the XIII cc.) is locatedin thegarden.Treasure full of ceramicwas found herein 1969, during the construction work. Clay vessels were found in the specialhole.

What kind of unique findings and informationBotanical Garden willgive us? - Time will show.

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone of the Botanical Garden, for saving one of the most remarkable sights of Almaty, and that they do everything so we can say Garden will bloom, pheasants will fly, and foxes will run!

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