Fauna & Flora International undertakes emergency saiga conservation efforts

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is carrying out urgent work to research and protect the critically endangered saiga antelope. More than 12,000 saiga were found dead in western Kazakhstan in May of this year. We have been working on the species for several years and so felt compelled to study this disaster.

Our efforts will be supported by the rapid response fund, established by Morris Animal Foundation in honor of longtime trustee Betty White.

Saigas have experienced one of the fastest declines recorded for mammals in recent decades: a 95 per cent decrease in population over the past 20 years.

The distinctive-looking antelope, which has a large, trunk-like nose that hangs over its mouth, once numbered in the millions and migrated in herds up to 100,000 strong across the plains of Central Asia and Russia. Sadly, the species has dwindled to about 80,000 globally since the early 1990s.

“Everyone knows how much I love dogs and cats, but wildlife species have a special place in my heart, too,” said Betty White. “It is such an honor to contribute to a fund that can rapidly address wildlife health needs in times of crisis.”

Morris Animal Foundation established the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund to give wildlife researchers timely monetary aid to respond to unexpected events, such as natural disasters and emerging diseases, which result in the immediate need for animal health research. The Fund has supported research on the health of dolphins affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Foundation is one of the only organisations in the world funding health-specific research for wild species. Since 1967, Foundation-funded research has advanced the health of our planet’s wildlife—and, in some cases, has ensured the very survival of a species.

Photo credits: Igor Shpilenok