The Saiga Antelope in Europe: Once Again on the Brink?
In the Quaternary Period, when the ice sheets, covering much of the Northern Hemisphere, were embraced by a broad belt of arid tundra- steppe communities, the saiga antelope occupied an area far more extensive than its present range. The animal’s bones have been found in Ice Age deposits scattered from the British Isles to Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada, all the way to the New Siberian Islands in the north and the Caucasus region in the south.
Today, the principal strongholds of this 'living fossil' are the dry steppe and semi-desert regions of Kazakhstan, which harbour over 80% of its overall range and number. A tiny fraction of the species lingers in Mongolia, while its second largest population is practically confined to Kalmykia, a small province of Russia in the far southeastern corner of Europe.