Mass death in 2015 had pushed the Saiga to the brink of extinction. But an air survey after two years has thrown up some heartening figures. The numbers have risen from around 334,000 to over 842,000 in the Kazakhstan heartland.
Back in 2015, the upsetting images of corpses strewn around had broken hearts around the world. Strong conservation measures by the Kazakh government and strong conservation measures helped save the Saiga and the species has made an amazing recovery.
Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan member, Albert Salemgareyev The saiga’s inborn resilience is also to be commended, and that gives an expectation for the future of the species.
The saiga gives birth to twins each year and that increases the possibility of the species recovering. But there is no hope for them going back to the vast herds that roamed the former Soviet Union in their millions.
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New Projects Could Hamper The Growth Of The Saiga
The infrastructure and the petroleum and gas projects will always hinder their breeding. The survey had shown that the region of Ustyurt had seen the most dramatic explosion in the population of the saiga.
There had been only about 1,000 alive in this area after the mass die-off. But the numbers have seen an encouraging increase to around 12,000.
Flora & Fauna, a UK-based non-profit, has been leading efforts to protect the Ustyurt saigas. They have helped establish an anti-poaching unit and have used radio collars to monitor the herd’s movement. David Gill, Central Asia’s senior program manager for Flora & Fauna said that the results were proof that conservation efforts had paid off.
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But he said that the survival of the saiga may be threatened by upcoming infrastructure projects as they are migratory and move over vast areas in search of pastures.
The 2015 die-off was due to a bacteria that affected them due to a rise in humidity.
The vast Central Asian steppes are the last of the vast wilderness left. The fact that the saigas are traversing thousands of kilometers as they have done since Neanderthal man roamed the earth is a cause for celebration.