"Information support for saiga conservation"
Foto by I. Shpilenok
Saiga (Saiga tatarica tatarica) - a unique migrant mammal that
in the course of long evolution has well adapted to complicated habitat conditions
in dry deserts and semi-deserts of Eurasia. Despite the relatively short life
expectancy these animals have extremely high reproduction speed. This allows
the population rehabilitate itself after the periods of high mortality caused
by environmental stresses.
Quite recently this antelope was a common inhabitant of European and Central
Asian steppes and semi-deserts. In Russia saiga could be found on the right
bank of Volga in its lower reaches (territory of modern Republic of Kalmykiya
and Astrakhan' region). Yet, in the process of human development of these areas,
number and range of the population has been steadily decreasing.
However saiga remained numerous in Russia and Kazakhstan right up to the middle
of the last century. Exactly from this moment tendency towards drastic population
number decline resulting from increase of cattle load on pastures, degradation
of habitats and anthropogenic stress could be traced. Urgent measures taken
in 1970s to limit saiga hunting helped recruit number of animals to the level
of 1950-s (700-800 thousands individuals) after which decrease recommenced.
Today, excessive and unregulated saiga hunting represents the biggest threat
to the animal - its meat and especially horns are highly valued and demanded
in traditional Chinese medicine. Another cause is disturbance of key habitats
and usual saiga's migration routes. Saved from almost complete extinction in
the middle of XX century, saiga populations are found to be endangered again.
Now overall siaze of saiga population in Russia is extremely low and doesn't
exceed 18 thousands individuals, with adult males making up from 1 to 10% (in
"better" times). Thus, current situation is close to critical.
Saiga was included in the Annex to the II Convention on Migratory Species at
the 7th conference of member-states (Bonn, Germany, September 2002) Also IUCN
(International Union for Nature Conservation) categorized this specie in its
Red List as "endangered" (2002).
Russian Committee for the UNESCO program "Man and Biosphere" (MAB),
Laboratory of Mammal Landscape Ecology (Institute of Environmental and Evolution
Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences), Biodiversity Conservation Center and
other interested organizations are planning to develop and implement a system
of measures aimed at preventing this unique specie from extinction.
Providing citizens with reliable and timely information, raising public awareness
of the problem of saiga protection now takes on special significance. This page
contains many useful materials on this issue.
We are looking forward to your response and proposals!
Biodiversity Conservation Center
ul. Vavilova, 41, office 2
Moscow, 117312, Russia
Tel.: +7 (499)-124-50-22
Fax: +7 (499)-124-71-78
Russian Committee for MAB,
Laboratory of biodiversity conservation and use of bioresources
(Institute of Ecology and Evolution, RAS)
117312, Moscow Vavilov st. 41/5
Tel./Fax: + 7 (499) 124-79-32
Financial, technical and information support to the web site is
Large Herbivore Foundation
Trust for Endangered Species
International Fund of Animal Welfare, IFAW
We faithfully thank them for the support!
We also thank all those who endowed for saiga conservation: