How do you make conservation more appealing?
In 2014, as part of their Masters courses at Imperial College London, Katie Mabbutt and Sophie Elliott travelled to Kazakhstan to carry out research into topics critical to the conservation of the saiga antelope.
The students were lucky enough to be able to take part in various Saiga Day festivities, speak with local adults and children, and to research the impact our work is having in these remote regions. Their results were very encouraging and each made insightful recommendations for future saiga conservation programmes.
Katie Mattbutt carried out a fascinating piece of research into ‘Factors affecting intention to volunteer to conserve the Ural saiga population’. Understanding human behaviour is central to implementing effective conservation strategies and Katie applied the Theory of Planned Behaviour framework from social psychology to understand what drives intention to volunteer for conservation programmes. Based on her findings she was able to make several recommendations, which we will be implementing in the coming months; for example the Steppe Wildlife Clubs will be looking to start a young volunteers programme to instil volunteering behaviour at a young age and our local awareness and outreach campaigns will always leave people with specific actions that they can carry out to help conserve saigas.
Sophie Elliot’s research investigated the possibility of how adolescent aspirations can be used to inform new conservation initiatives. Her research suggested that specific engagement activities for teenagers are often overlooked in conservation, and she suggested novel ways to involve this essential, yet hard to engage group into conservation activities, one such suggestion; tailoring the Ice bucket challenge to become the ‘Sand bucket’ challenge has already been set in motion and went down a storm with local teenagers and saiga supporters. (You can see some of the clips here: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=661786470603381)
We’d like to thank the people’s trust for endangered species, Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, and Fauna and Flora International’s Ustyurt Landscape Conservation Initiative – supported by USAID, for their support of the SCA’s projects and for making this research possible.
To read the executive summaries download the pdfs below, or visit http://www.iccs.org.uk/publications/thesis-archive-msc-con-sci/ and look for their research in the 2013/14 folder.