Student's Kazakhstan conservation work earns international award

28 April 2023 | News

Albert Salemgareyev has become the second consecutive Master of International Nature Conservation student to win a prestigious Whitley Award.

The saiga antelope has a specially adapted nose to warm up cold air as it breathes.

The awards are given by Whitley Fund for Nature
(WFN) to inspiring individuals who combine the latest science with community-based action to benefit biodiversity, climate and people.

Albert's ongoing work with the critically endangered saiga antelope in his native Kazakhstan earned him the honour, which was presented in London on 26 April.

The Master of International Nature Conservation is a joint degree that gives a unique global perspective on conservation by participants studying at two leading universities in different hemispheres - Lincoln University and the University of Göttingen in Germany.

In 2022, programme graduate Sonam Lama was recognised for his conservation work with red pandas in Nepal.

Albert’s project addresses the emerging conflict between saiga and pastoralists over water and grazing sites on areas around around the 657,000 hectare Bokey Orda State Nature Reserve and Ashiozek State Nature Sanctuary.

Albert launches a drone.

This could threaten to undermine the success story of the species rebounding back to a record high due to  conservation efforts.

The saiga now number 1.3 million after falling to a low of 50,000 in 2006 due to bacterial infection.

"Surviving in difficult natural and climatic conditions allows saiga to remain the most important species in steppe, semi-desert and desert ecosystems," Albert said.

These ecosystems must be protected and restored, and their natural resources used sustainably in the future.


Albert is Lead Specialist at the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) and  his research has contributed to the creation of more than four million hectares of protected land across Kazakhstan, including Bokey Orda and Ashiozek.

Amid calls for hunting of saiga to resume to control rising populations, Albert and his team aim to drive consensus and find sustainable solutions in a new community approach for Kazakhstan to involve all stakeholders, which includes pastoralists, staff of the protected area, local government and civil society organisations.

The award presentations, available to be viewed here, feature a voiceover by acclaimed wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.

saiga antelope calf.

Main picture: Albert weighs a calf as part of his research.