Endangered antelopes rebound in Kazakhstan, but the threat is imminent

Image Picture of saiga antelopes in Altyn-Dala Park in central Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan stated that since 2019, the number of critically endangered saigas has more than doubled, giving conservationists new hope for the long-term survival of grassland animals. Since the last aerial survey, news that the saiga population in this Central Asian country has increased from 334,000 to 842,000 indicates that it is continuing to rebound after its mass extinction in 2015.

The nature conservationist Albert Salemgareyev knelt down to weigh a newborn saiga with thin legs and found himself in the most important baby boom in the Kazakh steppe.

His team of experts and volunteers travelled several times in the vast and dry grasslands of Kazakhstan before finding a calving ground where a group of critically endangered antelopes gathered for giving birth.

But now it is rebounding, and the authorities have taken protective measures for a creature that survived the ice age, but flirted with extinction many times in the modern era.

The latest aerial survey of the saiga population in Kazakhstan shows that the number of saiga populations has increased from 334,000 to 842,000 in the past two years.

Now, the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK), where Salim Galeyev belongs, has seen encouraging signs in the process of monitoring the species, including an increase in the proportion of males, whose horns are highly regarded in Chinese medicine. .

The Ministry of Ecology of Kazakhstan last week called the population surge “an indicator of the effectiveness of measures to protect the saiga population and combat poaching”.

-Bolsheviks to the Soviet era-

But the expansion of poaching activities at the turn of the 20th century tested the animal’s famous survival ability.

The Soviet era provided unprecedented protection, first with a three-year hunting ban, and later through a strictly enforced quota that pushed the population to about 2 million.

In recent years, the government has severely cracked down on this practice, strengthening legislation and strengthening law enforcement.

One of the two forest rangers, Yerlan Nurgaliyev, painted a mural on top of an apartment in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, which proved the public’s strong sentiment towards the murder The mural is depicted as hugging a saiga antelope, which proves this point.

According to Fariza Adilbekova, ACBK’s National Coordinator of the Alkindala Conservation Project, these murders marked a turning point because “society began to pay attention to poaching” and the media also reported more on this issue.

She said one of them is the planned 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) highway, which traverses the pristine grasslands and semi-deserts of central and western Kazakhstan, and traverses the saiga migration route, and may cause “damage and trouble” to the species.

A team of scientists who performed autopsies on antelopes that died during the calving season stated in 2018 that the deaths coincided with excessive humidity and above-average daily temperatures on the prairie.

The author wrote at the time that this discovery meant “future concerns, as climate change in the region is expected to increase temperatures in the short to medium term”.

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About the Author: Agnes Zang