Saiga antelope appeal

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Saiga antelope have roamed the earth since the ice age, outliving iconic extinct species like woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers. Though they once migrated through eastern Europe, Asia and Alaska, saigas are now found only in small ranges in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and Uzbekistan. In the early 1990s, there were 1 million saigas; by 2005, only 6% of that population remained.

In Uzbekistan, saigas risk disappearing altogether. The biggest threat they face is poaching. Saigas are heavily pursued for their horns, which are sold as traditional Chinese medicine. Furthermore, habitat loss pushes them into smaller and less hospitable grazing areas. Saiga antelope have been placed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered.

Young saiga are vulnerable but are protected within a large herd. Credit Saiga Conservation Alliance.

We’re funding saiga conservation in a protected area in Uzbekistan called Resurrection Island, home to a small population of saigas. For hundreds of years, saigas there were protected by the natural geographic barrier of the sea and later, once the sea was drained, by a toxic, muddy seabed. But now there’s a clear land route to the island, exposing this vulnerable group to predators and poachers, who threaten to wipe out the saiga population.

But there is hope. Great progress has been made in saiga conservation over the past ten years. Our team has established wildlife clubs, responded to emergency population collapses, raised public awareness and re-discovered an isolated population of saigas. There’s strong local support for encouraging biodiversity, and the Uzbekistan government is very open to supporting saiga conservation as they plan for economic development. It’s the perfect time to act for saigas. Due to the hospitable social and political environment, we must act now for saigas.

Female saiga antelope with her young. Credit Eugeny Polonsky.

If you’d like to play a role in the rehabilitation of Resurrection Island and create a future for the saiga antelope, please make a donation today.

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