Over two decades, the saiga antelope’s population rebounded dramatically across Eurasia’s wild steppe, with countries such as Kazakhstan taking drastic measures to ensure the survival of this floppy-nosed ungulate.
“This is phenomenal news,” says Joel Berger, ecologist at Colorado State University and senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “At a time when so many species and populations are in deep swan dives, to witness the recovery of saiga—a species deserving of more recognition in its own right—is something we all need to celebrate.”
In 2003, only 6% of saiga antelope remained in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Today, according to the most recent estimates, there are more than 1.9 million floppy-nosed ungulates in Eurasia. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has upgraded its Red List status: the saiga antelope went from critically endangered to near threatened. Indeed, for instance, Kazakhstan has imposed stronger anti-poaching measures like law enforcement to prevent saiga hunting and designated close to 5 hectares of saiga antelope habitat as protected areas.