Saiga Antelope | WWF

Saiga Antelope


The Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica mongolica) is the most threatened and endemic ungulate species. It is one of two sub-species of Saiga; the other (S. t. tatarica) is distributed in Russia and Central Asia.

Common Name: Mongolian Saiga
Scientific Name: Saiga tatarica mongolica
According to the international (IUCN, 2010) regional (IUCN, 2006) assessments the species is listed as critically endangered and endangered species respectively. The Mongolian saiga is also recorded in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II (UNEP-WCMC, 2006) and the List of globally endangered 100 species (Isaac NJB, Turvey ST, Collen B, Waterman C, Baillie JEM 2007). The species is legally protected by the Mongolian Laws on Fauna and Hunting, where its hunting is prohibited (Badam, Ariunzul, 2005) and listed as very rare species in the second edition of Mongolian Red Book (Shagdarsuren, 1987; Shiirevdamba, 1997).
Distribution: the species is found in Uushiin Gobi, Durgun steppe, Khuisiin Gobi, and Shargiin Gobi in Great Lakes’ depression to the south of Khar Us Lake in Western Mongolia. It has limited distribution.  About 80 per cent of its distribution areas and habitats that were recorded in the 1940s in the last century have been lost. There are two seperated or fragmented populations in Mongolia.
Habitat: Saiga antelope is the flagship species, ungulate, of desert steppe in the Great Lake depresion. Its suitable habitat includes Sharga and Khuisiin Gobi Stipa glareosa - Allium polyrrhizum, Stipa glareosa – Cleistogenes squarrosa, Stipa glareosa – Artemisia spp, Stipa glareosa – Reaumuria songorica, and Stipa glareosa – Anabasis brevifolia community dominant rocky flat plain desert steppe. It avoids from mountainous and uneven/bumpy areas.
Population: Population: Population sizes in Sharga and Khuisiin Gobi are quite changeable. According to the last decade research findings, there were about 5,200 heads recorded in 2000 (Dulamtseren, Amgalan, 2003), Varied but consistent counts suggest that the population increased to 5,000 (Clark & Javzansuren, 2006; Chimeddorj et al., 2009). Small population in Mankhan was about 200 in 1975, but it was reduced to 35 heads (Mallon and Kingswood, 2001)
According to the latest 2017 data, the population are 4,961 heads of Mongolian Saiga inhabit across its distribution range. Compared to the results of survey, conducted in January 2017, the Mongolian Saiga population has been reduced by 54.5 percent due disease outbreak, goat plague (peste des petits ruminants).
Causes of scarcity/rarity: Population decrease is mostly impacted by harsh natural conditions of frequently occurred drougths and dzud, heavy snow falls, habitat degradation caused by livestock (overgrazing/unsustainable pasture use, competition for water) and poaching and illegal trade of horn as well as attacks of predators/carnivores. 
Conservation Status:
• “Very Rare” per Law on Fauna (2000);
• “Critically Endangered” per IUCN Red List (2006),
• CITES Appendix II (1994)
Main threats:
• Habitat competition with livestock;
• Poaching;
• Frequent extreme natural conditions (cold winters and droughts) 

Saiga antelope (<i>Saiga tatarica</i>) 
© Undram R.
Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica)
© Undram R.
Saiga antelope (<i>Saiga tatarica</i>) calf. 
© WWF-Mongolia / Ts.Tuyatsatsral
Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) calf.
© WWF-Mongolia / Ts.Tuyatsatsral