Karina Karenina and Andrey Giljov both graduated from the St. Petersburg State University, Faculty of Biology in 2010. They have been working together since the very first days after graduation because they have very similar research interests, devoted to the behaviour of animals in the wild.
For the first decade of their academic careers, they were primarily focused on brain lateralization. In particular, they studied how the asymmetrical functioning of brain hemispheres influences the everyday life of birds and mammals. They both have Ph.D. degrees in zoology (AG: 2015 and KK: 2016) doing research in this field. They have co-authored three books and over 40 scientific papers.
Andrey and Karina were always obsessed with studying different species in different parts of the world: in Australia studying left or right handedness in kangaroos and wallabies,; in India – the mating behaviour of blackbucks; in Namibia – the maternal behaviour of mountain zebras; and in Ecuador – the competitive interactions of hummingbirds. When they were not able to get funding, they have worked as wildlife guides to fund their field trips, and have guided trips in Namibia, Botswana, Brazil, Mongolia, and Russia.
While they loved changing the study species and locations, one of their first research subjects, saiga antelope, was always very special. And during the last fifteen years, they have traveled to the Russian steppes to observe and photograph them. At first, it was just one of the species they studied in the course of a project devoted to the manifestations of brain asymmetry in animal behaviour. But later they started to gather information about habitat use and social structure required for more effective conservation efforts. When they realized that scientific knowledge alone is not enough to help the survival of the species, they started running saigawatching tours to support the reserve which protects the last few thousand Russian saigas. Covid and then geopolitical chaos interrupted their plans to keep developing this project, and so with camera traps and enthusiasm they headed to Paraguay to explore the possibilities for mammalwatching tours with a focus on the support of local conservation initiatives.