Saiga Antelope: Shifting Conservation Status

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December 14, 2023

Saiga Antelope: Shifting Conservation Status

The Saiga Antelope, A Critically Endangered Species, Is Making A Comeback |  Madras Courier


  • The Saiga Antelope, scientifically known as Saiga tatarica, has undergone a reclassification in its conservation status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), transitioning from the perilous category of ‘Critically Endangered’ to a more optimistic ‘Near Threatened’.

Overview of Saiga Antelope

  • Physical Traits: Known for its distinctively bulbous nose, the Saiga Antelope boasts a relatively small stature, slender build, and elongated, thin legs.
  • Habitat: This species predominantly inhabits the steppe regions of Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
  • Population Distribution: While Kazakhstan and Russia house the primary populations, smaller groups can also be found in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Mongolia.
  • Conservation Status: The IUCN Red List now designates the Saiga Antelope as ‘Near Threatened’, signaling a positive shift in its preservation prospects. Additionally, it is listed under Appendix II of CITES.

Key Points

  • Major Threats: The Saiga Antelope faces significant threats from poaching, primarily for its horns used in traditional medicine, alongside habitat loss and outbreaks of diseases like pasteurellosis.
  • Diet: As herbivores, they sustain themselves by grazing on various grasses and plants.
  • Breeding Habits: Known for their remarkable capacity for rapid population growth under favorable conditions, they reproduce in sizable herds.
  • Migration Patterns: These creatures are recognized for their extensive seasonal migrations, traversing long distances.

Cultural Significance

  • The Saiga Antelope holds a special place in the folklore and culture of the local steppe communities, featuring prominently in their narratives and traditions.


  • The Saiga Antelope’s reclassification to ‘Near Threatened’ brings a glimmer of hope for its conservation, highlighting the importance of continued efforts to mitigate threats and safeguard this unique species thriving in the Central Asian and Eastern European steppe regions.

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Saiga Antelope: Shifting Conservation Status | Vaid ICS Institute