Important meeting in Kazakhstan on the future management of Saiga antelope
In recent years, the population of saigas in Kazakhstan has significantly increased, reaching a level of 1.9 million individuals by spring 2023. With the population growth, the species’ range isexpanding as saigas occupy suitable habitats, including agricultural lands. This leads to local conflicts in the form of competition between saigas and domestic livestock for watering holes, pastures, and crop forage. Consequently, there is a rising concern about managing saiga populations in Kazakhstan.
Currently, the saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica) is listed as “critically endangered” (CR) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Additionally, the saigais included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ofWild Fauna and Flora (CITES). A Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope has also been signed.
Considering Kazakhstan’s commitments to international conventions and agreements, as well as the need to develop approaches for resolving conflicts between local communities and saigas, theMinistry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals(CMS), has invited international experts to work in this direction.
The first online meeting took place on February 28 – March 1, involving the representatives of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, CMS and CITES Secretariats, international experts, research institutes, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, and the local population. During the meeting, the current situation was discussed, and a series of questions were raised before the international experts.
From May 20-23, a group of international experts visited the West Kazakhstan region, wherethey witnessed the local conflicts between farmers and saigas. They also met with the local population and representatives of the regional administration.
Currently (May 25-27), the Advisory Meeting “Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflict regarding Saiga Antelope in Kazakhstan” is taking place. It is organized with the financial and technical support of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the State Enterprise “Hunting andWildlife Management Association,” UNDP, and ACBK.
The main goal of this meeting is to develop a strategic vision for saiga population management, establish common approaches, and define specific actions to resolve conflicts between local communities and saigas, ensuring their coexistence in the future.
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