EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]
Participatory Monitoring of Saiga Population Ecology, Russia

[Project description/overview]
This project trains young scientists while putting in place a sustaunable monitoring programme for the saiga antelope.

Kalmykia, Russia

Project type:

Relevant EDGE species:
Saiga/mongolian Saiga (Saiga tatarica)

Project members:
Saiga Conservation Alliance

Relevant species
131. Saiga/mongolian Saiga (Saiga tatarica) CR

One of the world's fastest animals, the distinctive saiga can reach speeds of up to 80 km/h.

[Relevance description]
To train young scientists in the UK and Kalmykia through joint fieldwork; to put in place a sustainable monitoring programme for the saiga population integrating sound science with local engagement; and to promote ongoing links between Kalmykia State University and Imperial College London, through postgraduate training and scientific research.
Project summary
Monitoring the population size and structure of endangered species is fundamental to conservation success, allowing trends to be detected so that timely action can be taken, and enabling researchers to address fundamental ecological questions. However monitoring is costly and time-consuming. Successful conservation also requires the engagement of local people. To address these issues, participatory monitoring, with professionals working alongside local people, is being trialled by conservationists worldwide.

Current monitoring within Kalmykia, Russia, involves a database of observations made by rangers during anti-poaching patrols, while local engagement is through education programmes and livelihood enhancement. In this project we will assess the scientific robustness of the current monitoring programme, use the existing database to analyse correlates of saiga location and herd composition, and explore the potential for local people and professionals to combine forces through a participatory monitoring programme. We will use observation experiments to calibrate the error and bias inherent in the proposed monitoring programme, and establish an ongoing pilot project to evaluate the long-term potential for locally based saiga monitoring, as a component of sustainable management.
1. To analyse existing data on herd structure and distribution to assess factors influencing seasonal movement patterns, herd behaviour and composition;
2. To provide recommendations for robust ongoing scientific monitoring of saiga population dynamics;
3. To assess the reliability of locally based saiga monitoring through an analysis of the direction and magnitude of errors and biases in professional and villager observations, using an experimental approach;
4. To evaluate the feasibility of establishing a village-based monitoring programme through assessment of cost, capacity and potential scientific and conservation outcomes;
5. To establish a pilot programme for ongoing locally-based monitoring of saiga ecology.
Start date: January 2008
Duration: 1 year
Project members

The SCA is a network of conservationists working together for saiga conservation.

[Member role description]
Project partners
Imperial College London
Kalmykia State University
British Council: BRIDGE Programme
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
Saiga survey
[Title:] Organisation Logo
[Image caption]
Saiga Conservation Alliance
[Title:] Saiga
[Image caption]
Saiga tatarica