Two month old Mongolian saiga neonate
The Mongolian saiga has long been isolated from the more numerous populations in Kazakhstan and Russia by the Altai Mountains. They occur at low densities but across a wide area of the western Mongolian Gobi steppe-desert. The population of Mongolian saiga has declined dramatically in recent years, but the most recent estimates suggest that the population has rebounded somewhat and may now number over 5,000 individuals.
The recruitment of juveniles is a major factor in the population dynamics of all mammals, yet little is known about the role that juveniles play in the dynamics of saiga populations. Of many questions relevant to saiga conservation, we still do not know on average what proportion of females give birth each year, what proportion of calves survive, or causes of juvenile mortality. Thus there is a critical need to obtain essential population data in order to develop and implement adequate protection measures to ensure that Mongolian saigas can continue to fully recover in the wild.