Name: Elena Bykova
Skype: Elena Bykova
Saiga Conservation Alliance, Executive Secretary
I’m thrilled to be having a chance to apply for this amazing opportunity to improve my professional skills in Conservation Sciences to become a better expert and a leader in wildlife conservation field. I see a high value in joining some of the academic courses such as those focused on socio-economic research in biodiversity conservation, statistics, endangered species research and monitoring methods and any others.
For more than 25 years I have been working as a field zoologist, and for the last 15 years I have been actively involved in the conservation of the biodiversity of Uzbekistan, practically endangered animal species and vulnerable ecosystems. Since 2004, I have been working on various projects to study and conserve the unique saiga antelope species and its habitat (i.e. semi-deserts and steppes located in the north-west of Uzbekistan). I became a co-founder and a member of the Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA) - as a representative of this NGO, as well as an employee of the Academy of Sciences, I dedicated a lot of time to study the local ecosystem as well community engagement and interaction with the local government. The saiga population in Uzbekistan that became the focus of my research is the most threatened and difficult to conserve due to its transboundary habitat stretched between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The region is also very challenging because of the social, economic and political issues that has to be taken into account to decide on saiga conservation.
The University of Oxford uses a unique interdisciplinary approach to studying and preserving biodiversity; this approach would be incredibly beneficial addressing the mentioned earlier issues keep facing in saiga conservation. Besides, this fellowship would be incredibly helpful in making new connections with Oxford University and network with other researchers, exchange experience, knowledge, and share ideas and interests. Last but not least, I would be very happy to improve my academic English writing through courses such as ‘Scientific writing for academics’ and ‘Getting published’. I would also love to strengthen the cooperation between the Academy of Science in Uzbekistan and Oxford University now that we have a MoU for joint cooperation.
Biodiversity conservation/ Endangered animal species/Human impact evaluation
Saiga Antelope research & conservation, Urban mammals ecology, Snow Leopard research & conservation
It is very interesting for me to study interdisciplinary approaches for nature conservation, which are being developed in Oxford and, in essence, are an innovation in the field of nature conservation! It is clear however that the roots of the species reduction/extinction lie not only within the field of environmental knowledge and phylogenesis of these species, but, to a greater extent, in such areas as sociology, economics, politics and more.
For effective conservation efforts, it is important to change the behavior of people at all levels, to motivate both ordinary people and key decision-makers, to raise the profile of species that are on the verge of extinction. How to assess the causes, assess the risks of extinction and the prospects for recovery of species? What estimates, evidence and predictions should be given to local people and which ones should be given to the government for an effective action for the preservation of species and landscapes? I hope to find the answers to these and other questions during my visit as a ICCS fellow. I’m very much interested in studying the experience and current projects of Oxford scientists and other organizations. I’m keen to dedicate my time to working on a new project with a proposal for the conservation of saiga and unique ecosystems of the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan, including the former islands of the Aral Sea. Furthermore, I’m hoping to improve my professional skills through research courses such as How to peer review journal papers, Introduction to writing successful research proposals, time management etc. Also I would love to advance my English language skills – especially in academic writing (Spoken and Written Communications), that would immensely benefit my scientific career.