ASTANA – Kazakh saiga conservationist Albert Salemgareyev, a member of the Kazakh Association for Biodiversity Conservation, won the prestigious Whitley Awards 2023 in the field of nature preservation for his work to save the Saiga antelope, whose population has exceeded 1.3 million, reported the Association for Biodiversity Conservation on April 27.
Salemgareyev has been studying saigas since 2006, leading a satellite tagging program by putting collars with special transmitters on 186 animals since 2009.
The obtained data from the collars has contributed to understanding the ways of saigas’ seasonal movements and their places of concentration during lambing and rutting.
This information was used to create the Altyn Dala Reserve and expand the Irgiz-Torgai State Nature Reserve area. Maps of animal migration routes are used in road infrastructure planning to reduce any negative impact.
Salemgareyev and his team, along with the Royal Veterinary College and the Food and Agriculture Organization, developed a scheme to detect and respond to future disease outbreaks in the wildlife.
The conservationist received a £40,000 ($49,850) grant as part of the award. He plans to focus his research on finding solutions for the unhindered access for wild animals to watering places and preventing conflicts over water resources with residents who keep livestock.
The award ceremony took place at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The awards were presented to the winners by Princess Anne, the patron of the Whitley Fund for Nature.