Saigas are one of the most threatened species on the planet.

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Saiga Conservation Alliance

Saving the Critically Endangered Saiga Antelope from Extinction



The Cause

The saiga antelope once roamed across Europe and North America alongside mammoths and sabre-toothed cats. Saigas live in some of the harshest lands in the world, often migrating long distances between summer and winter pastures. Their unique physiology is ideally suited for this climate and habitat.

Once numbering in the millions, the saiga population crashed by 95% in fifteen years, the fastest decline ever recorded for a mammal species. They are now critically endangered. In May and early June of 2015, over 200,000 saiga in central Kazakhstan died suddenly due to a respiratory illness. The fate of the saiga is also closely tied to the economic downfall of the USSR in the 1990s, and illegal poaching to sell the horns for “medicine.”

The Challenge

Saigas are under threat for several reasons; they are increasingly hunted for their meat and valuable horns, which are believed to have medicinal purposes. Oil and gas exploration and transportation as well as the laying of new road and rail infrastructures are hindering saiga migrations and impeding access to traditional pastures, many of which are being threatened by increasing livestock numbers.

The Saiga Conservation Alliance works across the saiga’s range in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and Uzbekistan as well as in consumer countries such as China, to secure its future. Recently, the saiga population in Kazakhstan has begun to increase again, thanks in large part to the efforts of SCA.

A Prehistoric Marvel

The saiga antelope ranged across the Eurasian steppe since the ice age. Its extremely unusual oversized nose inflates to breathe warm air in the frosty winters and filter dust in the summers.

Working to Save Them

Conservationists are working in several nations across the saiga’s range to save this rare animal. It takes field work, education and outreach to make a positive change and help their future.

About Us

The Saiga Conservation Alliance is a network of researchers and conservationists who have worked together for over 15 years to study and protect the critically endangered saiga antelope.

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Latest coverage from Mongolia. Thanks to AlJazeera

Latest Posts from the SCA Newsroom

International Women’s Day

Today, on International Women’s Day we are celebrating women in saiga conservation. We are happy to support a women’s embroidery programme in Uzbekistan, which helps save saigas as well as empowering women in rural communities. The SCA helps women in rural...

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Saigas in the News!

If you love the natural world Mongabay is great online source of news for all things related to conservation and the environment, and this week Elizabeth Devitt has written a great article about saigas for its ‘Almost Famous Animals’ series! Read the...

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A short overview of the situation in Mongolia

Our colleague, Richard Kock from the Royal Veterinary College in the UK, worked on the Mass die-off in Kazakhstan in 2015, he recently came back from carrying out emergency research into the terrible scene unfolding in Mongolia. In these two very short clips he...

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