We are thrilled to announce that People’s Trust for Endangered Species has just awarded the SCA a grant to carry out critically needed research into the most viable saiga population in Uzbekistan.
With an estimated resident population of only 500 saigas in Uzbekistan we are facing the very real risk of losing them from another of their traditional ranges.
Until recently Vozrozhdeniye’s restricted military status and location in the Aral sea ensured protection of its biodiversity. However, drying of the Aral sea through extraction for irrigation has opened up a land corridor to the saiga’s habitat, and the removal of the island’s restricted status means people are now freely entering the area to hunt the saigas.
Thanks to People’s Trust for Endangered Species this year we plan to research the status of saigas and biodiversity on Vozrozhdeniye island, building on the opportunity for its designation as a protected area. Previous SCA research found anthropogenic factors impacting Vozrozhdeniye’s saigas’ range and behaviour, and with poaching a new threat it makes this research and subsequent intervention essential.
Impassable, fragile terrain on Vozrozhdeniye makes it suited to implementing cutting-edge technologies to monitor the island’s saigas; trialed in 2014 through our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded Small Grant Programme, satellite imagery will now enable us to produce a robust estimate of population size and range for the first time. While camera traps will allow us to understand how saigas use the island.
Of course, as with all SCA projects we will be working closely with local people who are keen to share their knowledge of their saigas, as well as protecting them for future generations to enjoy.
Be sure to check in and keep up to date on the project’s progress here.