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Saiga

Latin name: Saiga tatarica

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Saiga

Many local people have joined the ‘Saiga Friends’ Groups, set up with FFl’s support, which act as advocates for saiga protection and wider biodiversity conservation in the region

Elena Bykova

Institute of Zoology, Academy of Sciences, Republic of Uzbekistan

An image relating to Saiga

The saiga antelope is superbly adapted to the harsh conditions of the grass and semi-desert steppes of Central Asia, which are among the last remaining wilderness areas in Eurasia. This unique looking antelope lives in large nomadic herds but unfortunately their numbers are dropping and they are now considered Critically Endangered.

Saiga facts:

  • The saiga can travel many kilometres a day and has no fixed home range
  • The species became extinct in China in the 1960s
  • Its nose has an unusual structure that is thought to help warm the air inhaled in winter and filter out dust in the dry summers

Despite its ability to endure the extremes of nature, the saiga cannot withstand the increasing threat from human-related pressures due to hunting for horn and meat and habitat degradation and fragmentation. The world population of saiga antelope has declined catastrophically in recent years by 95 per cent.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with a number of partners to help secure the future for the saiga. One such project is focusing on the relationship between rural livelihoods and increased poaching on the Ustyurt plateau in both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

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Did you know?

The saiga antelope can undertake migratory journeys between summer and winter ranges of over 1,000 kilometres. As a transboundary species, it is crucial that all the range states agree to protect the saiga if its survival is to be secure. 

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