These Rare Antelope Face Double Jeopardy: Disease and Poaching
On the steppes of Central Asia, saiga antelope have survived a mysterious disease. But poaching for their horns is a continuing threat.
Roaring at high speed, the rangers’ Soviet-era jeep rumbles over the hot plains of the Kazakh steppe, shimmying violently. In the back seat, piles of dirty camouflage jackets, oily assault rifles, dinged-up binoculars, and bags of macaroni go flying at every jolt. This is the basic gear an anti-poaching patrol needs for weeklong forays into the Central Asian interior to stop hunters from killing saiga antelope for their slender, ribbed horns, which are highly valued in Asian traditional medicine.
Suddenly Bakhytzhan Kubanov yells at the driver, who skids the jeep out of the ruts to a halt. The 59-year-old ranger springs from his seat, waving his arms for the wardens following behind to stop too.
“Ha! That was close!” he shouts