This thesis combines an investigation of the ecology of a wild ungulate, the saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica, Pallas), with epidemiological work on the diseases that this species shares with domestic livestock. The main focus is on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and brucellosis. The area of study was Kazakhstan (located in Central Asia, Figure 1.1), home to the largest population of saiga antelope in the world (Bekenov et al., 1998). Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a dramatic economic decline, accompanied by a massive reduction in livestock numbers and a virtual collapse in veterinary services (Goskomstat, 1996; Morin, 1998a). As the rural economy has…
The Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica) has experienced spectacular declines in all four of its Central Asian populations in recent decades. Anthropogenic factors are considered to be the root cause, with poaching considered to be the primary factor. This activity is fuelled by the demand for meat for local sustenance and the relatively high income that can be gained by selling the horns, possessed only by the males, to the Chinese market for traditional medicine.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, populations of saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) have declined by over 90% due to poaching for the species’ meat and horn. The assessment of population status, and consequently the management of this migratory species, is constrained by insufficient understanding of saiga biology and the anthropogenic factors driving its exploitation. This interdisciplinary study addresses this need by investigating both the species’ ecology and the socio-economic factors linked to saiga poaching in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Fieldwork was undertaken for 14 months in 2003-2006.