My name is Nursultan Sadvakasov, I am the head of the marketing department of the National Geographic Qazaqstan magazine Also, at the moment, our editorial team is carrying out a scientific and environmental expedition along the floodplain of the Ural River The purpose of our scientific and environmental expedition is to conduct analyzes of water, air and soil. At the same time, our team is taking pictures. In preparation for this expedition, we selected several candidatures of photographers. In particular, Sasin Tipchay is a photographer who specializes in shooting nature and landscapes. By the collective decision of our editorial team, photographers from Thailand, China and Russia were invited. Sergey Savvi and Alexander Perevozov, who are animalists and shoot animals and birds. And also the third group of photographers, which was attracted from China. They are documentaries, high professionals in their field. I started working with the project “National Geographik“ three years ago, that’s when they invited me for the first time, since I was at that time the chairman of the Altai ethno-photographic fund. This is a very fruitful collaboration for both parties. Moreover, it is very pleasant to apply all your skills in working on such projects that are of importance throughout the country, for the whole people. Our works will be published in the National Geographic Qazaqstan magazine, which is also a great honor and no less great responsibility for us. Since childhood, I have been attracted to culture, geography, and history. I really like all this. Throughout my life, I traveled a lot, read a lot. I read a lot about the Zhaiyk River and knew a lot, but exclusively from sources, I see this river live for the first time in my life. This is my dream. How much is sung about this great river. Zhayik! This word alone is truly awesome. And my dream came true – I’m here on the banks of this great river. This is happiness! I like to watch birds. I learned to identify their voices. Even in my student years, I traveled a lot in nature reserves and conducted bird counts. And when I graduated from the university, I worked as a teacher for a year and then a year later I moved to the Caucasus to work as an ornithologist in the Caucasus Nature Reserve. And since then I have been working there for more than twelve years. Work in the Caucasian reserve is associated with constant field trips for bird counting and information gathering. And not to take pictures there is simply impossible, because it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. And I took a camera in order to just capture these moments for myself, so that I would remember all this later. And gradually, this hobby grew into something more. It is a great honor for me to work with professionals of this level. I am proud to have worked with the National Geographic team, and thank them for such a unique opportunity. The survey began from the border of the West Kazakhstan region and along the right and left banks of the Ural River, with two groups they began to go down to the mouth of the Urals, where this river connects to the Caspian Sea. The Ural River is an artery of life among the steppes and deserts of the Atyrau region. If you drive literally 2-3 kilometers to the sides, you will find yourself in the desert, in the steppe, where there is practically no life, no birds. But, as soon as you find yourself in the floodplain of the river, on the shore, in the forest, on the old riverbed you will see many birds, especially during periods of migration, when many and many birds on the fly adhere to the river bed. Because it is a guide from north to south, it is a place to relax, to feed. Most birds flying through western Kazakhstan, they adhere precisely to the outfall of the Urals. In this territory, 292 species of birds, of which 110 species build their nest, 70 species build their nest, the rest are found on migration. 36 species are listed in the Red Book. 47 species of mammals are registered, of which 2 species are listed in the Red Book. 270 species of plants are described in the outfall of the Zhaiyk River. Of all the plants, 4 species are listed in the Red Book. On the Zhaiyk River and in the northeastern part of the Caspian Sea, 95 species of ichthyofauna are recorded, 5 species are listed in the Red Book. So this territory is interesting and globally significant. I had to take pictures in different countries, in the most remote parts of the planet. Each area is beautiful in its own way. I am very impressed with the picturesque nature of the Atyrau region, bewitching landscapes, diverse flora and fauna. When it comes to the Zhayik River, this is primarily magic. A huge number of stories and legends are associated with this river, which my father told me about. This river is a witness to many historical eras and events. And when I am here, on the banks of this great river, all that I know, rises before my eyes, comes to life. The Zhaiyk River, like many in Kazakhstan, is transboundary, that is, it has its origin from other countries. It’s peculiar in that it has freshwater. Clean. And the problems that exist today need to be solved today, otherwise in a few years it might be too late. This must be decided at the state level, by the whole country. This is a comprehensive scientific and environmental expedition to collect materials due to the fact that an environmental disaster is happening on the Ural River. It dries up, spawning grounds perish. Nowhere to breed fish, people have nowhere to take water for life. This is especially notable. Even by concrete barriers along the river, one can judge how much its level has fallen. And just when you swim along the river, you can see many braids, many shallows; you can see how the water recedes. It can be seen that the water level fell several meters. Zhayik is a fabulous place for us. For the local population, this is a nurse, a mother river. We have been here for several days and see how little water is in this once great river. We met people who study the river, one of them cried, for real. He lived on the river for forty years and is now talking about how the river has changed over the past three years. There are many questions, no answers. How to live on to people who used to be proud of their river and now even cannot do it. Previously, I used to send my son to the city along the river caravans. Caravans walked through the entire region. And now my heart is bleeding, now here on this area I can cross the whole river on foot. This has never happened before. During the expedition, we visited many settlements along the river, where the main activity was always fishing. And all residents are unanimous, huge changes are taking place with the river. Previously, there were specimens of beluga fish weighing up to a ton, and now? Now, even the stocks of ordinary fish have significantly decreased. At the same time, the negative effect of this is multiplicative; agriculture and animal husbandry are suffering. Everyone is suffering. We saw all this with our own eyes. We see global challenges. This is siltation of a channel, dead wood in a channel, and catastrophic drop in water level. At the same time, we see that this region is diverse with flora and fauna, a huge number of beautiful landscapes. Conducting a photo exhibition in Atyrau and preparing an article in National Geographic Qazaqstan Magazine The fact that I visited the banks of the Zhayik River will remain in my memory forever I will tell everyone about this unique place. Here are a unique people, preserving all traditions, all culture. This is a special people, people who live along the Zhayik River. I would very much like the problems associated with the river to be resolved. The life of thousands of people depends on this. I am very glad to see the Ural River and visit it when I get home I will definitely tell all my friends and relatives about this trip!