Saiga Conservation Alliance
Saving the Critically Endangered Saiga Antelope from Extinction
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Latest Posts from the SCA Newsroom
Our friends at Nautilus Magazine have created a beautiful short film about the challenges of saiga conservation in recent years. The film sets the scene, helping us understand why saigas are in the critical position they are currently in. It then brings us up...read more
International Wildlife Academy for Environmental Educators On International Environmental Education day we reflect on our first ‘Wildlife Academy for Environmental Educators’ in Uzbekistan. The event brought together incredible teachers from across the saiga’s...read more
Sudden death of 200,000 Critically Endangered saiga antelopes was caused by unusual environmental conditions The sudden death of over 200,000 saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan in May 2015, more than 80% of the affected population and more than 60% of the global...read more
Subscribe today and receive saiga updates in your inbox! We won’t spam you or inundate you with posts. We will share with you our quarterly e-newsletter, annual Saiga Spotlight, and occasional breaking news or updates on saiga conservation.