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Weekly Wildlife: Saiga Antelope

Updated: Jun 4

Is that an Alien? No, it is a Saiga Antelope!

Photograph by Evgeny Polonsky


Where in the world?

PAST: Steppe landscape of the British Isles to Alaska

NOW: Semi-arid desert habitat of Russia and Central Asia


What an interesting character

Quit staring at my nose!

These large bulbous noses help Saiga Antelope live in severe climates. Their noses heat up the air in winter and filter dusty air in the summer.


Distinguishing Traits

Height: 24-32 in (61-81 cm)

Weight: 57-152 lb (26-69 kg)

Color: Varies during the year

  • Summer: yellow and red

  • Winter: grayish-brown

Markings: dark markings on the cheeks and nose

Horns:

  • Males only

  • Thick and slightly translucent

  • Wax-colored with 10-20 pronounced rings


We are family

GENUS: Saiga - the only member

FAMILY: Bovidae - cloven-hoofed ruminants

- Let me explain:

  • Cloven-hoofed is a divided hoof or foot

  • Ruminant is a mammal that chews cud regurgitated from its rumen

- Others in their family include bison, impalas, gazelles, sheep, goats, and cows



Facts of Life
  • They're pretty ancient - having roamed with saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths

  • Live in large herds

  • Vegetarians - they eat plants including some that are poisonous to other animals

  • Can travel long distances and swim

  • Mating season is in November - males fight each other to attract females

  • Females birth and raise their young together

  • Natural predators include wolves, foxes, golden eagles, dogs, and ravens


Conservation Connection
  • Saiga Antelope were listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2002

  • Today only 160,000 antelope are left

  • The Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA) focuses on helping these unique creatures survive

  • Learn more about the SCA and how you can help at http://saiga-conservation.org/

Photographs from the Saiga Conservation Alliance Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Savesaigas/


1. Saiga Antelope. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from https://www.fws.gov/international/animals/saiga-antelope.html

2. Saiga Conservation Alliance. (2016). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from http://saiga-conservation.org/

3. Saiga antelope. (2020, March 31). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saiga_antelope

4. Saiga Antelope. (2017). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from https://wildnet.org/wildlife-programs/saiga-antelope/

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