With the support of the Wildlife Conservation Network, the Saiga Conservation Alliance has initiated a small grants competition. The first round was held in September 2007, and four projects were chosen for support by the Steering Committee. 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.
The grants awarded were of up to $1,500 in value, and will run until the end of September 2008.The successful projects in 2007 are:
- Esenamanov, R. Assessment of the distribution, sex-age structure and limiting factors for the Betpak-dala population of saigas in the winter period (Kazakhstan).
- Khludnev, A.V. Construction of an ecological trail in the “Stepnoi” nature reserve (Russia).
- Vashetko, E.V. Creation of an electronic library on the saiga (Uzbekistan). Obgenova, O.B. To produce educational materials for younger schoolchildren, “On the track of the baby saiga” (Russia).
The Steering Committee of the SCA is very keen to make this competition an annual event, if funding allows. It is a very cost-effective way of catalysing conservation action where it is needed throughout the saiga’s range, and of helping to build capacity among local conservationists. One strength of the programme is its accessible application procedure, with short proposals which can be submitted in either Russian or English, meaning it is open to groups who would not normally be able to apply for an international grant. Each project leader is mentored by a member of the SCA Steering Committee, to ensure that project progress is monitored and support given where necessary.