The First SCA Small Grants Award Winner Announced

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The Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA) awards the first 2016 small grant to the ranger team of the Stepnoi Sanctuary.

The First SCA Small Grants Award Winner Announced

Communication - an important tool in improving the protection of saigas in the North-West Caspian.

The saiga population of the North-West Caspian remains critically endangered, with about 3,500 animals. Their main threat being poaching for their horns which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. About 2000 of these saigas live within the boundaries of the Stepnoi Sanctuary in the Russian Federation's Astrakhan region, an area of over 100 hectares. 50,000 hectares of which is exempt from grazing livestock and is one of the reasons the sanctuary is able to provide areas perfectly suited to both the saiga's rutting and calving periods.

Currently a team of 10 rangers is always on duty, working around the clock to ensure that not only do poachers never harm a single saiga, but that the territory they live in is kept in optimum condition. They put out wildfires, create and maintain saiga watering holes, and patrol the entire area for overgrazing, incursions by farmers and poachers and also carry out wildlife education at their HQ, to name but a few of their duties. All this goes on despite the extremes of temperature they encounter, which range from 40 degrees in the summer to -35 degrees in the winter!

The teams patrol in five cars with each car carrying an off-road motorbike, which is used to provide a rapid response when potential offenders are discovered. However, as you can imagine, patrolling an area this size is no easy task and needs a nimble team which can respond instantly to all situations. This means that they have to be in constant communication with other team members, as well as other environmental and law enforcement agencies and operating in the area.

For this reason the SCA has awarded the wonderful ranger team of the Stepnoi Sanctuary with an SCA Small Grant, kindly supported by the CMS. The grant will enable the team to replace their decade-old-equipment with state-of-the-art technology which will help them to ensure the future of the saiga antelope in the region.

Click here to read an overview of all SCA 2016 small grants award winners.