Saiga Antelope

2114999048_7d0c80dab1_z A mature Saiga Antelope showing off its white coat for the winter. Find the original image here.


Brief Description

The Saiga Antelope, or Saiga tatarica, is a diurnal ungulate indigenous to the deserts and grasslands of parts of Asia and southeastern Europe, most prominently in Kazakhstan. Highly nomadic, Saigas move north during the summer and develop less heavy coats of a tannish brown coloration while during the winter as they move south, their coats become much heavier and change to white as shown in the above photograph.

Saiga herds, or harems, are generally made up of one male and up to fifty females. During mating season, which begins in November, male Saigas will mate with the females within its Harem before breaking up into smaller herds. Because harems migrate such long distances, Saigas visit waterholes often throughout the day, but like Zebras are incredibly skittish.

There are two major reasons for the sharp decline in the Saiga Antelope’s population in recent years. Traditional Chinese medicine uses Saiga horns, as with many other horned species poaching is a prevalent reason for the species’ decline since the 1990s. Despite being illegal, poaching has increased in recent years as the demand for various Saiga horn related products, like “Saiga Cooling Water,” has increased in China.

The second reason for the Saiga’s sharp population decline in the past decade is the most concerning and fast acting of all of the threats to Saiga populations. In 2015, 200,000 individuals died in only three weeks. Researchers were baffled by this sudden mass die out, 200,000 individuals made up 60% of the global population and were suddenly gone. Recently, the source of the sudden annihilation has been attributed to the Saiga’s most prominent feature, the nose. It is believed that the bacteria, Pasteurella multocida, is present in small amounts in the species’ noses but because of global warming temperatures the bacteria was able to thrive which caused this sudden mass die out. Logically, this issue can only get worse as Climate Change continues to cause hotter temperatures globally in turn multiplying the bacteria and killing more individuals. The best bet for the survival of Saiga Antelope as a species is to increase their population as much as possible in order to increase the likelihood of their survival.

Locations_of_the_Saiga_Antelope_in_Kazakhstan_(1970-2008)Saiga Antelope migration patterns across Kazakhstan before the mass die out of 2015. This image is protected under public domain, and can be used for any purpose.

Fun Facts

  • Saiga Antelope herds can reach up to 1,000 individuals.
  • Male Saigas will fight to the death to become the dominant male of a harem.
  • Saigas have terrible hearing, but incredible vision being able to spot danger from up to a kilometer away!
  • The ratio of males to females overall is all out of whack because of poaching.
  • There are two sub-species of Saiga Antelope,
  • A Saiga Antelope is our logo!

How You Can Help

Petition / Donation Links

Wildlife Conservation Network Donation Link

By donating to the Wildlife Conservation Network, you are directly funding a plethora of programs to help the Saiga Antelope. Donations fund grass-roots conservation efforts like small grant programs, conservation projects, and creating, translating, and spreading materials involving Saiga Antelopes to other countries. Besides this, you can pay for supplies for anti-poaching forces of Rangers, like binoculars, gasoline, specialized cameras, and clothing. Finally, your donation could also potentially be used to fund education programs to further educate children and people of the regions where Saiga Antelopes are indigenous and how to protect them.

Additional Links

Ultimate Ungulate: The Saiga Antelope

Animal Spot: The Saiga Antelope

Here’s why 60 percent of the world’s saiga antelopes were wiped out in 2015

These Rare Antelope Face Double Jeopardy: Disease and Poaching

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