A national information campaign against trade in saiga horns in Kazakhstan

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For two months between November 2016 and January 2017 the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) conducted a large-scale information campaign against illegal trade in saiga horns.

A national information campaign against trade in saiga horns in Kazakhstan

 

Danara Jarbolova & Mukhit Suttibayev, Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan, danara.zharbolova@acbk.kz, mukhit.suttibayev@acbk.kz

 

The campaign's main goal was to prevent the distribution of announcements by buyers of saiga horns, warn people about criminal penalties for buying/selling saiga horns and attract public attention to the problem of saiga conservation. The campaign was initiated by ACBK and supported by the Nature Protection Police (Ministry of Internal Affairs), Forestry and Wildlife Committee (Ministry of Agriculture) and Okhotzooprom.        

We created webpages on Facebook and Vkontakte social networks as platforms for exchanging information and discussing wildlife conservation issues, with a special emphasis on saigas. The pages attracted 686 subscribers (667 on Facebook and 19 on Vkontakte). Social network users uploaded photographs of announcements about buying/selling saiga horns from their communities. In addition, a hotline for posting photographs of similar advertisements was created in What'sApp. Volunteers and law enforcement agents designed and distributed 5,000 stickers in a number of Kazakhstan's cities (Astana, Almaty, Aktobe, Karaganda, Aktau, Uralsk, Atyrau and Kyzylorda), informing people about the illegality of saiga trading.     

Over the course of the campaign over 200 announcements were detected in 7 provinces (Fig. 1). The largest number of advertisements was recorded in Mangistau, Karaganda, Almaty and Aktobe provinces. This resulted in the detection of 24 telephone numbers for saiga horn buyers and 19 websites where buying/selling of saiga horns was taking place. Letters were sent to the administrators of all these websites informing them about the illegal character of this type of activity, upon which the announcements were immediately removed from 11 of these sites. Analysis of the telephone numbers showed that most of the saiga horn buyers and sellers were from the cities of Karaganda and Almaty (Fig. 2).   

All the data collected was forwarded to the Nature Protection Police and Forestry and Wildlife Committee. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is now carrying out investigations based on the information received.. Thus, this campaign informed people across Kazakhstan about the illegality of buying/selling saiga products and attracted the public's attention to the problems of poaching control and conservation of this globally endangered antelope species.

 national info campaign kaz

An information sticker about the illegality of buying/selling saiga horns, designed by ACBK