Between 29th-31st October, the SCA steering committee, saiga conservationists and enthusiasts met in Almaty for three meetings related to saiga conservation.

First on the agenda was a meeting to evaluate the progress towards the Medium Term Work Programme of the CMS MOU on saiga conservation (which can be downloaded here) ahead of next year’s official CMS meeting in Moscow. For each area of the MTWP progress was assessed, with A1 actions (those that are both critical for saiga survival and needed within the next one to two years) that showed limited or no progress were flagged up and discussed. Due to the presence of so many interested parties, lots of new information was added and so we now have a much better understanding of what progress has been made.

The second day was a scientific meeting entitled “Monitoring the saiga antelope – an exchange of best practice”. Many different people from across the range states presented their own experiences, be it with ranger-based monitoring, participatory monitoring (involving local people), aerial surveys or satellite/radio collaring. This provided an excellent opportunity for those involved in saiga conservation to learn from others and enable them to put into practice techniques suggested by others.

On the final day the SCA annual meeting was held. The Alliance has come a long way in two years, and there was much to discuss! The winners of the Small Grant Programme in 2007 reported back on the progress they’ve made since being awarded their grant, and the winners of the 2008 competition were decided (for more information click here). Amongst other things, we also discussed the 2009 Small Grants Programme, improvements to the website, fundraising strategies, Saiga News, marketing and merchandising, the SCA filials in Uzbekistan and Kalmykia and the WCN Expo.

Many thanks to all those who attended and gave presentations, and to those who made these meetings possible: the CMS, The Royal Society of London and the WCN for providing sponsorship, and the Institute of Zoology in Kazakhstan for hosting us.

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