Save Our Saigas!

11 May

The world’s saiga population has taken a hit in recent years with numbers declining drastically due to poaching but now a new eco-tour to Russia’s southern steppe aims to reverse the trend by bringing people to the region and provide much needed funds to support saiga conservation projects.

                                                       A close-up of a saiga’s snout                                                                                                                (taken from Wikipedia)

The saiga is one of the original steppe-dwellers. This strange-looking antelope with its long, flat snout has been around since wooly mammoths and saber toothed tigers roamed the earth.

Today there are still saiga populations roaming the plains in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia. However, their numbers have fallen by around 95% since the early 1990s to below 50,000, leaving the species critically endangered.

Poaching, with saigas targeted for their amber horns, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, has  led to this huge fall in their numbers. Matters were made worse in 2010 as a mysterious virus wiped out some 12,000 saigas in Kazakhstan.

Now the Saiga Conservation Alliance, UK-based charity which runs  saiga conservation projects in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, has teamed up with Saga Voyages in Russia to run a 10-day tour starting in late August to see saigas close up in their natural habitat.

Proceeds from the tour will help support the SCA ‘s projects in the region and bring income to rural families.  The cost of the tour – which ranges from $1,275 – $1,600 depending on group size – may be too much for many, but you can still support the work of the SCA by making a donation here.


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