In November the Saiga breeding center ‘Yashkulskiy’, in the Republic of Kalmykia, Russia, hosted the winners of a nationwide competition for children.

The competition, which was entitled ‘Steppe antelope’, received more than 200 entries in four different categories: Drawing, handicrafts, poem and the ‘sorry’ category. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness of saiga conservation amongst children and to give them a greater understanding of their natural heritage.

The winners in all four categories were given a tour of the Saiga breeding center, and listened with interest as center staff told them about saiga, their lifestyle, causes of decline, the threat of extinction and the need to protect them. Students came away with an understanding of what they and their families and friends could do to help the saiga’s cause.

After the talk the students were excited to go and watch saiga in their enclosure and to have an up close experience with them as they stroked and helped to feed them. The children also were able to see other steppe inhabitants (horses, ponies, wild boar) and to understand how all the steppe inhabitants need to live in harmony with their environment.

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