Local herders feel strong antipathy towards saigas

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Buyanaa Chimeddorj, WWF-Mongolia, chimeddorj@wwf.mn

 

Thousands of Mongolian saigas have died due to PPR and only 4961 individuals are left alive. Although the intensity of this loss has been limited, a new challenge has emerged - local herders feel a strong antipathy towards saigas. The poor animal had a reputation of being the cause of pasture overgrazing and now it's blamed for spreading this infectious disease. Herders have become cautious, as they assume that contaminated saigas could infect domestic livestock. The majority of herders are feeling ever-increasing hate towards this animal as: "they do not have any value for herders' lives, despite their status as an endangered endemic species. There is no benefit to protecting them. On the contrary, they destroy our limited pasture resources and now start to contaminate our livestock. We just cannot love and appreciate the existence of saigas" said a herder.

While human-wildlife conflict existed for the snow leopards due to their predation on livestock, now we face another conflict, between herders and saiga antelopes. A new communications and advocacy strategy is needed, as well as tools tailored to this specific target audience, in order to address this conflict.