EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]
The Saiga Conservation Alliance Small Grants Programme

[Project description/overview]
With the support of the Wildlife Conservation Network, the SCA has initiated a small grants competition.

Kalmykia, Russia; Uzbekistan; Betpak-dala, Kazakhstan

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]
With the support of the Wildlife Conservation Network, the SCA has initiated a small grants competition. The scheme is aimed at encouraging conservation initiatives by any group or individual that will make a real difference to saigas, and will contribute to the Convention on Migratory Species’ Medium Term work programme.
Project summary
Construction of an ecological trail in the 'Stepnoi' nature reserve, Russia
The Stepnoi nature reserve is a haven for wildlife in the Astrakhan region of Russia, protecting not just saigas but also birds of prey, reptiles and other steppe and desert flora and fauna. The aim of the project is to build capacity for ecotourism, which will both highlight the importance of the reserve for conservation locally and among visitors, and raise much needed funds for conservation and research. Signs and an information leaflet will be developed for visitors to the reserve, and ecological information will be given both to visitors and to local people living around the reserve. The project will also help to strengthen the protection and anti-poaching activities of the reserve staff.

Creation of an electronic library on the saiga, Uzbekistan
There is a large amount of literature on the ecology and conservation of the saiga antelope, mostly in Russian, but it is scattered in a wide range of local, national and international publications including conference proceedings, theses and internal reports. Much of it is inaccessible to saiga researchers and conservationists. This project involves scanning at least 300 articles of saigas and creating pdfs of them, which will be stored in an electronic database. Each entry in the database will also have a short abstract in Russian and English with key words and details about the publication and authors. This project is very timely because many more people are becoming interested in saiga conservation and research. It is important that we collate and archive our existing knowledge about the species so that valuable information is not lost, and so that all those with an interest in saigas (particularly within the range states) have free access to that information.

Production of educational materials for younger schoolchildren, “On the track of the baby saiga”
The Centre for Ecological Projects in Kalmykia has been carrying out environmental education work in schools and children's homes for a number of years, including running art and craft competitions on the theme of Kalmyk nature and culture, with a particular emphasis on saiga conservation. However, the work has been focused on the 11+ age group. The Centre is now keen to extend their programme to include younger children, who are also a very important constituency for conservationists to target in order to influence attitudes at an early age and to carry the message home to families. Following the success of a similar children’s’ book developed in Kazakhstan, funded principally by NABU, this book will include stories, puzzles, craft activities, pictures and poems so that younger children can relate easily to the educational material within.

Assessment of the distribution, sex-age structure and limiting factors for the Betpak-dala population of saigas in the winter period, Kazakhstan
This project, by a young researcher at the Institute of Zoology in Kazakhstan, will help to train the next generation of saiga experts as well as providing important information on the current status of the saiga population in Betpak-dala. This was one of the most severely affected populations by the poaching crisis at the end of the 1990s, being the closest to the capital city, Almaty. Now although there are suggestions of stabilisation, the population is still perilously low. The Betpak-dala range area is very large, and is currently subject to an ambitious programme of nature protection through the creation of a vast new protected area system. However, we need current information on the distribution of saigas if we are to plan effectively. The sex and age structure of the population, and the calving rate, provide important information on the status of the species in this area, and can be compared to similar data collected over many years by the Institute of Zoology. This sort of scientific research is crucial for monitoring the recovery of the saiga population, and for ensuring that any warning signs are quickly picked up. It is also vital that we build capacity in-country for research and management of saiga populations, and supporting the work of a young scientist, who is working with Kazakhstan’s preeminent saiga experts, is a first step towards this.
Project members

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

[Member role description]
[Title:] Organisation Logo
[Image caption]
Saiga Conservation Alliance
[Title:] Saiga
[Image caption]
Saiga tatarica
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
Saiga monitoring
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
Handicraft club