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The sad saga of the saiga


Saiga antelope populations have dropped 95% in just 20 years -- from one million animals in 1998 to just 50,000 today. Already the victim of poaching, over-hunting and industrialization, the saiga now faces a "migration bottleneck" in Mongolia which prevents animals from finding mates, according to a new study.

From Mongolia Web News:

Saiga are reported to need to traverse a three mile wide corridor to connect with other saiga populations. However, competition for use of the corridor with livestock herds, and truck and motorcycle traffic is preventing saiga migration. 

Use of saiga horns in traditional Chinese medicine has also contributed to the decline. Since horns are only present in male antelopes, this has created "severely skewed sex ratios," according to the IUCN Red List, which says the species faces "reproductive collapse" as a result.

Once located throughout Europe and Asia (and even into Alaska), saiga now only exist in Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia's Kalmykia region. Of the 50,000 remaining saiga, 750 are members of an even rarer sub-species located only in Mongolia.

At this rate, neither sub-species will be around much longer.