In memoriam

In memoriam

In memory of Nikolai Tkachyov

Nikolai Tkachyov, inspector-driver of the Stepnoi sanctuary, Astrakhan Region, died suddenly on April 15, 2016. He was a wonderful man who had worked at the sanctuary from the very first day of its creation (April 5, 2000). Nikolai Nikolayevich risked his health and life many times defending our natural heritage, saigas, from poachers. Everybody who knew Nikolai Nikolayevich would always note his professionalism (he knew everything about saiga natural history), modesty, laconic manner, outstanding responsiveness and kindness. He was a real man. Nikolai Nikolayevich's work will be continued by his son, Alexei Tkachyov, who came to work at the Stepnoi sanctuary after his service in the Russian Army, and for the last four years has gained much from his father's wide experience. He has become a worthy successor.

The SN editorial staff mourns along with the staff of the Stepnoi sanctuary and offers our most sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Nikolai Tkachyov.


Tribute to Maria Karlstetter

Maria Karlstetter, a dedicated environmentalist who made a significant contribution to saiga conservation, sadly died in a tragic road accident in July in Germany.

Maria was a committed wildlife conservationist and biologist with extensive knowledge, interest and experience in Central Asia and a special affinity for the region's landscapes, nature and culture.  After completing her studies, she initially worked with a variety of organisations engaging in research and conservation-related projects in the region, including setting up ecotourism infrastructure and a transboundary protected area.  Maria worked  in Afghanistan with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and then in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan with Fauna & Flora International (FFI).

As FFI's Saiga Programme Manager for 5 years from 2009, Maria led a project which took major steps forward in the understanding, enabling environment and practical action for the conservation of the Ustyurt saiga population.  This project was done in close co-operation with Saiga Conservation Alliance and Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan.  Her efforts contributed significantly to improving the awareness of the plight of this critically endangered species on the global agenda, but also locally and regionally, and putting conservation action into practice to ensure that this species has a greater chance of survival in the years to come. 

The project under Maria played a key role in increasing our knowledge of the Ustyurt saiga population, with telemetry and other studies, and implementing practical on-the-ground activities as well as higher-level engagement through the CMS treaty and multi-sectoral dialogue.  Maria also started the innovative initiative with the Kazakh customs service to use sniffer dogs to detect illegally trafficked saiga horn.  In spite of the challenges and difficulties, Maria was persistent and conscientious, committed to making a difference.

Wanting to be based in her homeland closer to family and friends, Maria moved back to Germany in 2013, but maintained her interest in Central Asia, first supporting the implementation of the Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) and developing the Programme of Work which was adopted by CMS Parties in November 2014, before moving on to a German consultancy working again on environmental projects across Central Asia and India.

Maria loved the outdoors, enjoying hiking, mountaineering and photography, whilst also relaxing with yoga and drawing.  Tributes from colleagues in the region reflect on Maria's sincerity, kindness and encouragement to others.  Those of us who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing and working closely with Maria will remember a warm friend and dedicated, professional and knowledgeable conservationist with a tireless desire to make a difference to the world we live in.  

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