The where and why of saiga antelope distribution in west Kazakhstan - Henrietta Chilton, MSc Thesis
Effective and economical monitoring methods are required in biodiversity conservation. Monitoring of migratory species can be especially costly. A participatory monitoring scheme, as an economical monitoring technique, is initiated in West Kazakhstan for the monitoring of the Ural population of Saiga antelope, saiga tatarica.
The presence data collated from the participatory monitoring is evaluated and analysed alongside presence data from wildlife rangers in the region and an annual aerial survey using maximum entropy habitat suitability modelling approach.
The participatory monitoring data performs well with an improved model fit than the ranger data and of similar fit to the aerial survey data. Additionally the deterministic value of the environmental variables impacting saiga habitat selection, are analysed. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is shown to have the greatest effect on saiga habitat selection. Human factors and distance to water are also demonstrated to have deterministic value. Improvements to the monitoring techniques covered are discussed.
Participatory monitoring is found to be an effective tool for monitoring the saiga antelope.