This Darwin Initiative project builds on the success of our previous Darwin project (Using saiga antelope conservation to improve rural livelihoods) by collaborating with Kalmykian educationalists and religious leaders to highlight the importance of saiga conservation. We are also sponsoring a cultural exchange between the UK and Kalmykia, continuing to support direct action for saiga conservation, and comparing attitudes to saiga conservation in areas which have had different types of conservation intervention.

Collaborators in Kalmykia:

  1. Obgenova (Centre for Ecological Projects, Coordinator)

Iu. Arylov (Centre for Wild Animals)

  1. Badmaev (Chernye Zemli Biosphere Reserve)
  2. Khludnev (Stepnoi Sanctuary)
  3. Khalysheva (Yashkul School)
  4. Dzhenova (Arshan Children’s Home)
  5. Elistaev (Dharma Centre)

Project aim:

To safeguard the future of the saiga antelope in Kalmykia through constructive engagement with the public.


  • To carry out a comparison of public attitudes and behaviours towards saigas in areas of contrasting public engagement activities, drawing lessons for future engagement with the public in the Chernye Zemli region.
  • To carry out environmental education in local schools and temples, and enthuse children with saiga conservation.
  • To establish international links between educators and opinion-formers in the UK and Kalmykia, leading to ongoing support for saiga conservation at the grassroots level in both countries.
  • To consolidate the saiga monitoring system developed in our previous projects, and to use it in assessments of conservation success.
  • To contribute to the development of a visitor centre at the Centre for Wild Animals of Kalmykia, to act as a hub for environmental awareness and action for Kalmykia.
  • To continue the rotating cows project supporting the livelihoods of local villagers.
  • To carry out a public awareness campaign in area north of the Chernye Zemli Biosphere Reserve.
  • To support anti-poaching activities by rangers of the Stepnoi Sanctuary and the Chernye Zemli Biosphere Reserve.
  • To maintain a high level of positive media attention and official support for our work.
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