This year saw the ACBK holding the third annual Saiga Day celebrations in Kazakhstan. “When we held our first Saiga Day in 2011 five schools in five villages participated in the event. The 350 children who attended the first festival took part in quizzes and drawing competitions as well reciting poetry and short stories”. Remembers Zhanna Aksartova of the ACBK, “This year over 500 children, their families and volunteers all came together to celebrate with us”.
Saiga Day has become such a key event for these communities that the mayors and village elders all attended the events this year, taking an active part in the festivities, making speeches, admiring the exhibitions and presenting prizes.
A schedule bursting with entertainment
The celebrations opened with concerts, poetry readings and dances, and then officials and children’s families and friends were invited to visit the saiga exhibitions and science projects the children had prepared in the preceding weeks.
For the first time this year Saiga Day saw children of all ages taking part, so children were divided into age groups in order that they could experience a programme specially tailored to them.
Learning about saigas is fun!
The youngest children and their families were treated to a new saiga cartoon, and afterwards drew pictures to illustrate what they had learnt.
While those a little older took part in the ‘Saiga-Marathon’; several rounds of competitions in which teams were tested on their knowledge of saiga ecology and biology, drawing saiga and answering quick-fire questions. By popular demand they ended by playing an interactive saiga game in which teams play the parts of poachers and saigas; struggling to carry out their migration in the face of obstacles and attacks.
For the first time, older teenagers took part in Saiga Day, and found themselves battling for the title of ‘Eco-Leader 21st Century’. The competition was fierce and generated some great teamwork and ideas from all the contestants, who showed their conservation knowledge, passion for their environment and great potential as future guardians of the steppe’s magnificent biodiversity!
“A really positive outcome of this event has been seeing the children realise how important they are and how they can help save the Saiga in their own country”, concluded Zhanna.