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. 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. The grants were of up to $1500 in value. The successful projects are:
· 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”
· Esenamanov, R. Assessment of the distribution, sex-age structure and limiting factors for the Betpak-dala population of saigas in the winter period. Kazakhstan
A number of very strong proposals were submitted, from 6 countries, and four runners-up have been identified who will be supported if funds can be raised. The Steering Committee of the SCA is very keen to make this competition an annual event, if funding allows.