Floppy-nosed antelope has baby boom, raising hope for critically endangered species
In 2019, herd of saiga in Kazakhstan's Ustyurt Plateau produced just four calves. This year, scientists found over 500—a sign conservation efforts are working.
Each spring since 2007, scientists have scoured Kazakhstan’s Ustyurt Plateau for baby saiga antelope. Because this population of the critically endangered species is the country’s smallest and most imperiled, the results are usually not encouraging.
In 2018, for instance, scientists found a total of 58 calves living in these southwestern steppes. In 2019, that number dropped to four newborns.
This decline makes the May discovery of 530 saiga calves hunkered down in the knee-high grass a welcome sign of a possible baby boom for an animal hunted nearly to extinction.
As recently as the 1980s, millions of adult saiga—known for their comical, trunk-like noses—roamed the plains of Central Asia. But after the Soviet Union collapsed, demand for the antelopes’