On April 26, the UK charity organization Whitley Fund for Nature awarded Albert Salemgareyev, a leading specialist at the Kazakhstan Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity, QazMonitor reports citing the fund’s press service.
At the 2023 Whitley Awards, Salemgareyev received the award for his significant contribution to the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, a saiga antelope preservation effort in Kazakhstan.
Salemgareyev has been studying the population of saiga antelopes since 2006, leading a satellite tagging program that involves fitting special collars with transmitters to the animals. Since 2009, a total of 186 animals have been collared, and the collected data has been used to map the animals' migration routes.
This data has also been used to plan road infrastructure to reduce the negative impact on wildlife and create the Altyn Dala reserve, and expand the Irgiz-Torgay reserve.
The population of saiga antelopes suffered one of the most drastic declines ever recorded but has seen an astonishing recovery in Kazakhstan, which now accounts for more than 95% of the species’ population. The saiga antelope reached a low of 50,000 individuals in the mid-2000s but has since recovered to over 1.3 million saigas. Recently, it was recognized by the UN as one of its inaugural World Restoration Flagships.
The Whitley Awards Ceremony – often called “Green Oscars” – is organized by the London-based Whitley Fund for Nature, which aims to recognize outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation and celebrate grassroots conservation leaders, with a focus on Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The winners receive financial support for their projects, which is worth £40,000 in project funding over one year.