Saiga antelopes - the basicsThe saiga antelope is a unique inhabitant of the vast plains of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is a relict of the ice age fauna that included mammoths and sabre tooth cats, and is evolutionarily distinct from other antelopes. It is also a symbol of the steppe for the nomadic people it shares its habitat with, and has been an important source of food and inspiration for centuries.Latin name: Saiga tatarica.Appearance: In summer, the saiga’s coat is a rich chestnut colour and its belly and legs are pale. In winter, it has a thick, pale buff coat and the males’ noses swell for the rut.Subspecies: Two. Saiga tatarica tatarica lives in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and, in extremely cold winters, Turkmenistan. Saiga tatarica mongolica lives in Mongolia, and until the 1960s, China.Habitat: Arid Eurasian steppe.Height: Roughly the size of a goat, measuring about 70cm tall.Weight: Males weigh about 41kg and females about 28kg.Diet: Grasses, herbs and shrubs.Predators: Wolves and foxes. Eagles take calves.Mating: A male defends a harem of up to 30 females and mates with them over a 10-day period in early to mid-December.Gestation: 140-150 days, with calves usually born over a one-week period in early May.Number of Young: First-year females typically have one calf, older females have twins or, occasionally, triplets.Status: Listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to decline from a million in early 1990s to just six per cent of that by 2005.
1. Pre-Caspian population (Russia), 2. Ural population (Russia, Kazakhstan), 3. Ustyurt population (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), 4. Betpak-dala population (Kazakhstan), 5. Mongolian population (Mongolia, China)
Why protect saigas?In recent years saiga antelopes hold a sad record in the animal world – they are one of the fastest declining mammal species on our planet today. Since the early 1990s global saiga numbers have declined by over 95% (see graph below). As a result there is considerable international concern and saiga have been listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, the World Conservation Union.Poaching is the main factor driving the decline of saiga populations. The saigas meat and hide are traditionally valued, but nowadays saiga are primarily hunted for their translucent amber horn, which is used Southeast Asian countries for Chinese Traditional Medicine. All of the saiga’s range states used to be part of the Soviet Union and part of China within the last Century, until saiga went extinct in China in the 1960s. The fate of the saiga has been closely tied to the economic downfall of the USSR. The breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the collapse of rural economies and in turn led to widespread unemployment and poverty. Saiga poaching provided an alternative source of income and food albeit illegal. The trade in saiga meat and horn was hardly hindered by any law enforcement bodies, since these were also suffering from lack of funding. The border with China had been reopened in the late 1980s and demand for horn was high - fuelling further exploitation of saiga populations throughout Eurasia. The most accessible and easterly populations were exploited more heavily at first, until these had collapsed and exploitation shifted towards more remote populations.Saiga populations were not only hit hard by the poaching itself, but also indirectly because the hunting pressure changed the structure of the populations. Only saiga males bear the precious horn and as a result poachers aim to kill males. Male saigas are also heavier than females, so killing a male is a win-win situation: horns + more meat. Unfortunately, because of this selective hunting for males, the number of adult males dropped dramatically. During the rut there were not enough males to mate with all the females (!), which led to a reproductive collapse. The direct poaching offtake coupled with the reproductive collapse meant that saiga populations declined at unprecedented rates. Urgent conservation action is needed to halt this decline. In some populations, such as Betpak-dala, conservation action appears to be paying off, and the population is increasing. But more needs to be done throughout the saiga's range. The fact that the saiga is migratory and some populations are trans-boundary makes this not an easy task. But at SCA we have made it our mission to do everything we can to restore the saiga to its position as the flagship species of the Eurasian steppes.
The saiga is endangered because people hunt for the males for their horns and when there are no more males the species can not reproduce and dies off.
--- The saiga horn is a rare and highly prized ($100/kg) ingredient in Chinese medicine;--- The horns are found in various forms such as dried, thinly sliced (or flaked as pictured), ground into a powder, or cut into tiny pieces;--- In traditional medicine of the East Asian countries, it is believed to an excellent painkiller and antibiotic, and is used to treat many ailments such as headaches, fever, congestion, delirium (although there is no reliable scientific studies that prove this!).
Development of MoUTo implement the decision of the Seventh Conference of the Parties of CMS to list the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica) on Appendix II of the Convention as a consequence of its endangered status and the conviction that conservation efforts of this species are dependent on international collaboration between the range States, an Article IV agreement was concluded and took effect on 24 September 2006 after signature by the third range State.Signatories to the Saiga Antelope MoU:Turkmenistan (23 November 2005)Uzbekistan (23 May 2006)Kazakhstan (24 September 2006)Russian Federation (24 June 2009)Mongolia (10 September 2010)In addition, the following organizations have signed the MoU:UNEP/CMS Secretariat (23 November 2005)Ministry of Nature and Environment of Mongolia (23 November 2005)International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (23 November 2005)IUCN/SSC (23 November 2005)WWF International (23 November 2005)Fauna and Flora International (24 September 2006)Frankfurt Zoological Society (24 September 2006)Wildlife Conservation Society (24 September 2006)Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (10 September 2010)The Saiga Conservation Alliance (10 September 2010)
Aim of MoUThe MoU aims to reduce current exploitation levels and restore the population status of these nomads of the Central Asian steppes.Fundamental componentsAll Signatories agree to collaborate to improve the conservation status of the Saiga antelope throughout its range, and undertake national and joint activities to conserve restore and sustainably use the species and those habitats and ecosystems important for its long-term survival. Therefore they shall, individually or collectively:Provide effective protection for the Saiga antelope and, where feasible and appropriate, conserve, restore and sustainably use those habitats and ecosystems that are important for its long-term survivalImplement the provisions of the Action Plan, adopted in 2006Assess regularly the implementation of the Saiga antelope MoU and the Action PlanFacilitate the exchange of scientific, technical and legal information to undertake coordinated measures to conserve, restore and sustainably use the Saiga antelope, and cooperate with other States, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and other bodies interested in the implementation processProvide to the CMS (Convention on Migratory Species) Secretariat detailed reports on the implementation of the MoUThe MoU took effect immediately after at least three of the range States signed it (24 September 2006) and shall remain in effect indefinitely subject to the right of any Signatory to terminate its participation by providing one year’s written notice to all of the other Signatories.Meeting of SignatoriesMeetings of Signatories are organized regularly to review the conservation status of the Saiga antelope and the implementation of the MoU and Action Plan. National reports by individual Signatories and a report prepared by the Secretariat are also submitted.The First Meeting of Signatories took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 25–26 September 2006.Previous to the meeting a two-day Technical Workshop was organized. During the First Meeting of Signatories the following points were addressed:Share information on the conservation status of the Saiga antelope within the respective range States and the status of implementation of the Action PlanAdopt a Medium Term International Work Program to support the implementation of the MoU and Action PlanThe Signatories represented at the meeting were Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The other two range States, the Russian Federation and Mongolia, were also represented. Additionally, China and the United States were also present. Finally, a number of organizations such as UNDP Kazakhstan, NABU and TRAFFIC attended the meeting.The Second Meeting of Signatories was convened by CMS and took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 7–10 September 2010, preceded by a technical meeting. The Meeting of Signatories:Adopted a Medium Term International Work Programme for 2011-2015Agreed to expand the MoU to cover all Saigas, and thus to amend its title to refer to “Saiga spp.” instead of only “Saiga tataricatatarica”. This meant that Mongolia became a formal Range State to the MoU and its signature was welcomedThe Signatories represented at the meeting were Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Mongolia. China as well as a number of organizations such as IUCN, CITES and IFAW also attended the meeting.
SCAPES Activity: Ustyurt Plateau: A Landscape Approach to Reconcile the Conservation of Central Asian Steppe with Local Sustainable DevelopmentImplementing Partner: Pact, Inc.; Fauna & Flora International; BirdLife International; Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance ( ACDI/VOCA)The Ustyurt Plateau is a temperate desert shared between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and globally recognized for its ecological importance and high number of endemic species, 35 of which are listed as endangered on the IUCN global red list. The approximately 200,000 km2 landscape contains significant biodiversity resources, including two Global 200 Ecoregions, two Important Bird Areas and National Reserve designations.Changes in land-use management resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, high unemployment causing unsustainable natural resource use, as well as indiscriminate development of extractive industries, impose high pressure on Central Asia’s sensitive semi-desert and steppe ecosystems like the Ustyurt. Extensive, poverty-driven poaching has led to the collapse of wild ungulate species, such as the critically endangered saiga antelope, Saiga tatarica, and related bird communities. The saiga has experienced a 95 percent reduction in population in the last 20 years, one of the fastest declines recorded for mammals in recent decades. Gas pipelines, railways and associated infrastructure have changed ancient species migratory routes and have disturbed breeding grounds. Protected areas exist on the plateau in both countries, but lack proper demarcation, are poorly managed, understaffed and underequipped.Through a consortium of partners, led by Pact, Inc. and including Fauna & Flora International (FFI), BirdLife International and ACDI/VOCA, this initiative aims to reconcile ecosystem conservation with local sustainable development, using the saiga antelope as a flagship species. A multi-dimensional landscape scale approach will be used to foster long-term trans-boundary sustainable management of the Ustyurt. FFI is the only international NGO actively engaged in conservation on the Ustyurt and has been so for over five years, specifically engaging local communities in saiga conservation and supporting the Uzbek government to improve protection and management of the Saigachy Reserve.Conserving the saiga antelope makes a significant contribution to the conservation of the wider steppe ecosystem and its many threatened species. Highly adapted to the harsh climate conditions of the semi-deserts, the antelope is regarded as a keystone species of the steppe ecosystem. Its cyclic grazing of vast steppe regions maintains vegetation compositions and structure and thus habitat conditions for a multitude of steppe breeding birds. Further, the antelope serves as an important prey base for several raptor species.By enhancing ecological and socio-economic understanding of the Ustyurt, fostering public policy development, and strengthening institutional capacity to address the social, cultural and economic drivers that threaten species and ecosystem health, this project will improve the conservation management and ultimately the health and condition of the Ustyurt landscape and its species. Further, the project will provide opportunities for local communities to develop alternative livelihoods, and support and guidance to extractive industries to integrate conservation into their operations, meeting their legal and moral obligations.
U.S. Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking and Promote ConservationFact Sheet Office of the SpokespersonWashington, DCNovember 8, 2012Strategy to Combat Wildlife TraffickingThe United States is working with the international community to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and promote conservation through a four pillar strategy, which includes diplomatic outreach, public diplomacy, training, and partnerships. The United States’ efforts with foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector seek to reduce demand and strengthen wildlife and marine conservation, as well as related enforcement and institutional capabilities.Diplomatic OutreachThe United States engages both bilaterally and multilaterally to raise the profile of the growing wildlife trafficking challenge and to focus on the nexus between this criminal activity and global conservation, security, health, and economic development. The United States joined with leaders at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to issue a joint statement on wildlife trafficking. The United States is augmenting existing efforts in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , as well as promoting practical application of the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to combat wildlife trafficking. We also work with INTERPOL, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization, and the World Bank in the fight against wildlife crime.Public DiplomacyThe United States has funded public service announcements and other public awareness activities to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) “Buyer Beware” exhibit at Logan International Airport. In spring 2013, the State Department will host a group of African national park and wildlife officials, field agents, and NGO leaders as part of an International Visitor Leadership Program exchange that will serve as a means to share best practices and lessons learned. Senior State Department officials, including Under Secretary Hormats, Under Secretary Sonenshine, and Assistant Secretary Jones, have mobilized social media and engaged online audiences on wildlife and marine conservation and the growing wildlife trafficking threat.Training, Technology, and Law EnforcementThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides $10 million annually for wildlife protection throughout Africa and Asia targeting elephants, rhinos, great apes, and marine turtles. Funds are used to prevent poaching and to improve investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. USFWS spends an additional $2 million each year on capacity building through the Wildlife Without Borders program. Southeast Asian wildlife authorities receive training as part of USAID’s five-year, $8 million Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program. United States support for the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative and INTERPOL’s Project PREDATOR in tiger range countries has trained wildlife authorities, helped develop tiger conservation action plans, and enhanced law enforcement capabilities. The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs supports the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) program – providing law enforcement training to strengthen wildlife crime investigations at ILEAs in Bangkok and Gaborone. The Department of Justice and the USFWS work with international law enforcement partners – including the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group – to provide training for investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. The USFWS Office of Law Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration work in partnership with the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute wildlife trafficking cases. The USFWS also analyzes and shares intelligence on wildlife trafficking with global counterparts and provides state-of-the-art forensic support for wildlife crime investigations.PartnershipsThe United States is working to establish a Global System of Regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs) to improve communication and strengthen response actions. Building on existing WENs in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central America, we are working with partners to support the creation of new WENs in Central Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Central and West Asia. USAID has invested $17 million since 2005 to support ASEAN-WEN’s and South Asia WEN’s efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking through the initial ASEAN-WEN Support Program, the current ARREST Program, and INTERPOL’s Project PREDATOR. The United States has provided more than $7 million since 2005 to support wildlife conservation in Central America and the Dominican Republic, including funding for the Central American Wildlife Enforcement Network (CAWEN). We work bilaterally and through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to enhance the capacity of developing coastal States’ abilities to prevent the illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that undermines sustainable development and food security. We support the expansion and strengthening of existing partnerships, such as the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), to engage governments, civil society, and the private sector to combat wildlife crime. We are working with the transportation industry, NGO’s, and relevant organizations to develop best practices to prevent the illegal transport of wildlife and wildlife products. The Smithsonian Institution works with partners on programs including biological research, wildlife health and disease, community engagement in conservation, and endangered wildlife translocation.
Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife TraffickingRemarks Hillary Rodham ClintonSecretary of StateBenjamin Franklin RoomWashington, DCNovember 8, 2012The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTubeThank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Well, it’s a great delight to see all of you here. And as I look out on this audience, I see many familiar faces from the diplomatic community. And I especially thank each and every one of you for being here on this important issue.Congressman Moran, thank you for joining us today. I’d also like to welcome Deputy Administrator Steinberg from USAID, Naoko Ishii of the Global Environmental Facility. Thanks to Under Secretary Bob Hormats for his commitment to this issue, along with Under Secretary Maria Otero and Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine and Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones, and many others here in the State Department, and particularly all of you from the conservation and wildlife community and the private sector who have been involved in this issue for many years and have done extraordinary work. Unfortunately, we now find ourselves with all of that positive effort that started 30, 40 years ago being affected by changes that we have to address at every level of the international community.Now, some of you might be wondering why a Secretary of State is keynoting an event about wildlife trafficking and conservation, or why we are hosting this event at the State Department in the first place. Well, I think it’s because, as Bob Hormats has just pointed out, and as the public service announcements reinforce, over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before.As the middle class grows, which we all welcome and support, in many nations items like ivory or rhinoceros horn become symbols of wealth and social status. And so the demand for these goods rises. By some estimates, the black market in wildlife is rivaled in size only by trade in illegal arms and drugs. Today, ivory sells for nearly $1,000 per pound. Rhino horns are literally worth their weight in gold, $30,000 per pound.What’s more, we are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world. Local populations that depend on wildlife, either for tourism or sustenance, are finding it harder and harder to maintain their livelihoods. Diseases are spreading to new corners of the globe through wildlife that is not properly inspected at border crossings. Park rangers are being killed. And we have good reason to believe that rebel militias are players in a worldwide ivory market worth millions and millions of dollars a year.So yes, I think many of us are here because protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty. We see it’s a stewardship responsibility for us and this generation and future generations to come. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical to each and every country represented here.We all, unfortunately, contribute to the continued demand for illegal animal goods. Wildlife might be targeted and killed across Asia and Africa, but their furs, tusks, bones, and horns are sold all over the world. Smuggled goods from poached animals find their way to Europe, Australia, China, and the United States. I regret to say the United States is the second-largest destination market for illegally trafficked wildlife in the world. And that is something we are going to address.Now, several conservation groups are here with us today, and we greatly appreciate their invaluable work. But the truth is they cannot solve this problem alone. None of us can. This is a global challenge that spans continents and crosses oceans, and we need to address it with partnerships that are as robust and far-reaching as the criminal networks we seek to dismantle.Therefore, we need governments, civil society, businesses, scientists, and activists to come together to educate people about the harms of wildlife trafficking. We need law enforcement personnel to prevent poachers from preying on wildlife. We need trade experts to track the movement of goods and help enforce existing trade laws. We need finance experts to study and help undermine the black markets that deal in wildlife. And most importantly, perhaps, we need to reach individuals, to convince them to make the right choices about the goods they purchase.Now, there’s no quick fix, but by working closely, internationally, with all of these partners, we can take important steps to protect wildlife in their environments and begin to dry up the demand for trafficked goods. So with these goals in mind, the State Department is pursuing a four-part strategy.First, on the diplomatic front, we are working with leaders from around the world to develop a global consensus on wildlife protection. I spoke with President Putin, Ambassador, when we were together at the APEC summit in Vladivostok. He has been a staunch, vocal, public supporter of Russian wildlife. And I think it’s fair to say his personal efforts over the last years have made the lives of tigers in Russia much safer. There’s still poaching, but at least there is a commitment from the highest level of the Russian Government to protect the wildlife of Russia. In fact, when I was in Vladivostok, there were posters everywhere with tigers on the pictures on the lampposts and walls and everywhere we looked, reminding people that this was an important issue to Russia and the Russian Government. And I worked – I had the great privilege of working with President Putin and the other leaders there to make sure that the leaders’ statement that was issued included, for the first time ever, strong language on wildlife trafficking.Now, Undersecretaries Bob Hormats and Maria Otero have met with African and Asian leaders to discuss the immediate actions needed to thwart poachers. Next week, President Obama and I will personally bring this message to our partners in ASEAN and the East Asia Summit when we meet in Phnom Penh.We are also pressing forward with efforts to protect marine life. And last week, we joined forces with New Zealand to propose the world’s largest marine protected area, the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. And we hope to gain support from the international community as this important proposal moves forward.We’re strengthening our ability to engage diplomatically on these and other scientific issues. Building scientific partnerships is an important tool in addressing such global challenges. That’s why I’m pleased to announce our three new science envoys, Dr. Bernard Amadei of the University of Colorado, the founder of Engineers Without Borders; Dr. Susan Hockfield, the former president and currently faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and renowned evolutionary biologist Dr. Barbara Schaal of Washington University in St. Louis. Are these three scientists with us today? Are they? Okay. But I think it’s working to create a scientific consensus and very preeminent scientists from across the world speaking out that is one of the important steps that we are urging partners to join with us in doing.Secondly, we are reaching beyond governments to enlist the support of people. As part of this effort, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine, our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, is spearheading a global outreach campaign which we will launch December 4th on Wildlife Conservation Day. Our embassies will use every tool at their disposal to raise awareness about this issue, from honoring local activists, to spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter. We want to make buying goods, products from trafficked wildlife, endangered species unacceptable, socially unacceptable. We want friends to tell friends they don’t want friends who ingest, display, or otherwise use products that come from endangered species anywhere in the world.Third, we’re launching new initiatives to strengthen and expand enforcement areas. USAID has already provided more than $24 million over the past five years on a range of programs that combat wildlife crimes. Last year, they launched the ARREST program, which is establishing regional centers of expertise and expanding training programs for law enforcement. We really want to work with all of you, and we want both from countries that are victimized by trafficking to countries where consumers are the end-buyers of such products.Finally, this is a global issue, and it calls, therefore, for a concerted global response. So I hope every government and organization here today will join the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking. That is the global partnership for sharing information on poachers and illicit traders. We’ll also be convening meetings with traditional stakeholders like NGOs and governments and with less traditional stakeholders like air and cruise line companies to discuss new potential partnerships.Some of the most successful initiatives we’ve seen so far are the regional wildlife enforcement networks. These networks are critical to strengthening protection efforts and enhancing cooperation among key countries. To build on these efforts, today I’m calling for the creation of a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks to take advantage of those networks that already are operating and the lessons we have learned from them. The sooner we get this off the ground, the better, and to that end, the State Department is pledging $100,000 to help get this new global system up and running.I want to mention one last step we’re taking. Trafficking relies on porous borders, corrupt officials, and strong networks of organized crime, all of which undermine our mutual security. I’m asking the intelligence community to produce an assessment of the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on our security interests so we can fully understand what we’re up against. When I was in Africa last summer, I was quite alarmed by the level of anxiety I heard from leaders. It is one thing to be worried about the traditional poachers who come in and kill and take a few animals, a few tusks, a few horns, or other animal parts. It’s something else when you’ve got helicopters, night vision goggles, automatic weapons, which pose a threat to human life as well as wildlife. Local communities are becoming terrified. Local leaders are telling their national leaders that they can lose control of large swaths of territory to these criminal gangs. Where criminal gangs can come and go at their total discretion, we know that begins to provide safe havens for other sorts of threats to people and governments.So I think we have to look at this in a comprehensive, holistic way. And there’s something for everybody. If you love animals, if you want to see a more secure world, if you want our economy not to be corrupted globally by this kind of illicit behavior, there is so much we can do together. After all, the world’s wildlife, both on land and in our waters, is such a precious resource, but it is also a limited one. It cannot be manufactured. And once it’s gone, it cannot be replenished. And those who profit from it illegally are not just undermining our borders and our economies. They are truly stealing from the next generation. So we have to work together to stop them and ensure a sustainable future for our wildlife, the people who live with them, and the people who appreciate them everywhere.So let me thank you all for being here. I really appreciate the turnout, and it means a great deal and the fact that so many ambassadors are here representing their countries – and I particularly want to thank our colleagues, the Ambassador of Kenya, the Ambassador from Indonesia, for taking a leading role in this effort. We want to hear your ideas. These are our ideas, but we really are soliciting your ideas – what works, what can we do better, how can we make a difference. Let’s put the poachers out of business and build a more secure and prosperous world for all of us, and particularly for children generations to come.Thank you, all. (Applause.)
The Saiga Antelopes The Nomads of Central Asian Steppes
December 4 – Wildlife Conservation Day
Conservation of the
Saiga Antelopes –
The Nomads of the
Central Asian steppes
U.S. Embassy Tashkent
U.S. Embassy Astana
U.S. Embassy Ashgabat
Wildlife trafficking – the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts – is a soaring
black market worth $10 billion a year, second only to arms and drug smuggling.
Oct 2012: Tanzanian police have seized more
than 200 elephant tusks hidden in a coffin
and in fertilizer bags, pointing to rising
poaching in the east African country. The 214
tusks are estimated to be worth about
Aug 2007: seizure of illegal wildlife products
in Russia of 480 bear paws, a Siberian tiger
pelt and bones, and 20 kg of wild ginseng, all
destined for China. The smuggling gang
involved received jail sentences of up to 8
Feb 2010: Tiger
in Thailand, from
illegal traders. This
would have been used
in traditional Chinese
medicine. The Tiger
Temple, Thailand, cont
ributes to this illegal
Oct 2012: In South Africa 455 rhinos
have been lost to illegal killings. The
street value of rhino horns has soared
to $65,000/kg. The poaching is driven
by the use of their horns in Chinese
medicine and a belief – unfounded in
science – that they cure cancer.
Jan 2008: Forest
seized 30 Saiga
What are Saigas?
Latin name: Saiga tatarica.
Appearance: In summer, the saiga’s coat is a rich
chestnut color and its belly and legs are pale. In
winter, it has a thick, pale buff coat and the males’ noses
swell for the rut.
Subspecies: (1) Saiga tatarica tatarica lives in
Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and, in extremely cold
winters, Turkmenistan; (2) Saiga tatarica mongolica lives
in Mongolia, and until the 1960s, China.
Habitat: Arid Eurasian steppe.
Height: Roughly the size of a goat, measuring about
Weight: Males weigh about 41kg and females about
Diet: Grasses, herbs and shrubs.
Predators: Wolves and foxes. Eagles take calves.
Status: Listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red
List due to decline from a million in early 1990s to just
six per cent of that by 2005.
The saiga is endangered
because people hunt for
the males for their horns
and when there are no
more males the species
can not reproduce and
--- The saiga horn is a rare and
highly prized ($100/kg) ingredient
in Chinese medicine;
--- The horns are found in various
forms such as dried, thinly sliced
(or flaked as pictured), ground into
a powder, or cut into tiny pieces;
--- In traditional medicine of the
East Asian countries, it is believed
to an excellent painkiller and
antibiotic, and is used to treat
many ailments such as
headaches, fever, congestion, deliri
um (although there is no reliable
scientific studies that prove this!).
Signing ceremony of the MOU on the Saiga antelope
UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya
November 23, 2005
The MoU aims to reduce current exploitation levels and restore the population status of these
nomads of the Central Asian steppes
All Signatories agree to collaborate to improve the conservation status of the Saiga antelope
throughout its range, and undertake national and joint activities to conserve restore and
sustainably use the species and those habitats and ecosystems important for its long-term
Signing of the MOU on the Saiga
antelope by Turkmenistan
November 23, 2005
Signing of the MOU on the Saiga
antelope by Uzbekistan
May 23, 2006
Signing of the MOU on the Saiga
antelope by Russian Federation
June 23, 2009
USAID SCAPES – Sustainable
Conservation Approaches in Priority
USAID/SCAPES activity in the Ustyurt Plateau: A Landscape Approach to Reconcile
the Conservation of Central Asian Steppe with Local Sustainable Development
Implementing partners: Pact, Inc., Fauna & Flora International, BirdLife
The saiga as a flagship species to foster long-term transboundary sustainable
management of the Ustyurt, provide opportunities for local communities to
develop alternative livelihoods, and encourage extractive industries to integrate
conservation into their operations.
U.S. Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking
1. Diplomatic Outreach
The United States joined with leaders at the
2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum to issue a joint statement on wildlife
3. Training, Technology ,and Law Enforcement
2. Public Diplomacy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Buyer
Beware” exhibit at Logan International
Global System of Regional
December 4 – Wildlife Conservation Day
To raise awareness and combat wildlife trafficking
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife
Trafficking, Washington D.C., November 8, 2012
“…we are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and
prosperity of people around the world. Local populations that depend on wildlife, either for tourism
or sustenance, are finding it harder and harder to maintain their livelihoods. Diseases are spreading
to new corners of the globe through wildlife that is not properly inspected at border crossings. Park
rangers are being killed. And we have good reason to believe that rebel militias are players in a
worldwide ivory market worth millions and millions of dollars a year…”
“…It is one thing to be worried about the traditional poachers who come in and kill and take a few
animals, a few tusks, a few horns, or other animal parts. It’s something else when you’ve got
helicopters, night vision goggles, automatic weapons, which pose a threat to human life as well as
What Can You Do?
Photo by Alexander Esipov
Learn more about the Saiga
Celebrate Saiga Day! (April
Share the information you
learned today with your
friends and family
You can make a difference!
Photo by Alexander Esipov