Media Reports on Saiga Antelope

Media Reports on Saiga Antelope

A selection of news articles reporting on the saiga antelope. Photograph of a herd of saiga antelope on the Stepnoi Reserve in Russia. Photo by Andrey Gilev and Karina Karenina.

The following media reports were published in Saiga News Issue 20, on page 14.

An ancient saiga skull is found in Yakutia:

In July 2015, the skull of an ancient saiga was found on the banks of the Adycha river, Ulakhan Sullar area, near Batagov, Russia. The skull was Late Pleistocene in origin, indicating that the landscape of Yakutia at that time harboured both steppe animals like antelopes and tundra species like muskoxen and arctic foxes. The skull is well-preserved, with both horns and teeth in good condition, and so has potential for further studies.

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Illegal trade in saiga horns (saiga horns are also known as ling yang (羚羊) and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine) to China going through Kyrgyzstan:

In November 2015, the Xinjiang border police arrested four smugglers and seized 5,300 saiga horns and other illicit goods to the value of 160 million yuan at the "Torugart" checkpoint in China. The detained truck had entered from Kyrgyzstan. Considering that there are no saigas in that country, the horns are likely to come from Kazakh saigas. This is the biggest saiga horn seizure in China in recent years. On September 5th, 2013, another seizure of 4470 saiga horns was reported, also heading from Kyrgyzstan to China (see SN-17).

Please click here to read the full article. * This article is in Chinese but the photographs are interesting.

Saiga hunting in Kazakhstan has become an organised crime:

The press service of the Ministry of Agriculture in Kazakhstan states that 139 criminal cases have been opened over the last two years for the illegal use, purchase, storage, sale, transportation and killing of saigas; 90 criminal cases were forwarded to the judicial authorities and 126 criminals were convicted.

For example, on May 4, 2015 in Ayteke Bi District of Aktobe region, four illegal hunters shot 41 saigas; on October 15, a car with 36 freshly sawn saiga horns and meat was detained in Nura District, Karaganda region. Later, two SUVs were detained in Aktobe region, with 100 freshly sawn horns. On December 2nd 2015, a vehicle with five carcasses, one head and eight saiga horns was detained in Akshi area, 20 kilometers west of the Kumkol Syrdarya region of Kyzylorda. All these cases are within the range the Betpak-dala saiga population.

Russian citizens are also involved in the illegal saiga business. In Kustanai, a Russian citizen was convicted for "illegal treatment of rare, endangered and therefore prohibited for use species of plants and animals and their parts or derivatives". In May 2015, he illegally acquired 82 saiga horns and sent them through intermediaries to Almaty for sale. Police detained the illicit cargo on its way.

The saiga will be listed in the Red Data Book of Russia:

In Russia, the number of saigas is at a critically low level. Currently, it is probably no more than 4500 individuals and declining. However, illegal saiga hunting is continuing. On August 12th 2015, inspectors from the Chernye Zemil reserve found the skins of three saigas at a dump in Tavn-Gashun village, Yashkul' district. Later, 33 saiga horns were found and seized in the houses of two residents of Yashkul' district.

The poor status of the north-west pre-Caspian saiga population is reflected in the important decision to include the species in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation. "The saiga is already included in the Red Data Book of the Republic of Kalmykia, Orenburg and Omsk regions, and has been proposed for the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation.

This list will be approved by Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia after completion of legal procedures" said Dmitry Belanovich, the Director for environmental conservation at the Department of State Policy and Regulation, at the 3rd Meeting of the Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope, which was held in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) from October 26th to 29th, 2015.

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