Saiga Saiga tatarica (Linné, 1758)


English: Saiga; French: Saïga; Chinese: Gao-bi-lin-yang; Mongolian: Bökhön; Russian; Ssajga.

Former distribution: From the eastern Carpathian slopes east to the steppes of western Mongolia.
Present distribution: From the Kirgise steppes east to Kazakhstan, Dzungaria and western Mongolia.
Behaviour: Preferred habitat: low semi-arid steppes; gregarious in herds of 10-25, 40, 100 and up to over 100 000. They graze and browse on shrubs, herbs and grasses; active at twilight. During the fall they form large herds (100 thousands) and migrate south to warmer regions and grassy plains – migrating back in spring. Predators include wolves, sometimes dogs.
Population status: Stable. Extended in recent year up to a few millions; USSR: 2 000 000, 1958; Mongolia: 600 acc. to KRUPKA 1984 in lit.
Brief notes:
Body weight of adults: 35-69 kg
Shoulder height: 70-80 cm
Head and body length: 135-170 cm
Tail length: 8-10 cm
Gestation period: 145 days
Maximum age: over 20 years
Trophy: Record RW’s: 16 1/4, 1980 USSR, E. KANDUROV; average 9″. CIC: 88,65 points, USSR, n.n.; average 75 points.
Hunting methods: Driving, stalking, from hides.
Subspecies: 2
1. Saiga t. tatarica From the Kirgise steppes (Volga mouth east to the USSR Altai); western Dzungaria in China (Xinjiang); stable.
2. Saiga t. mongolica Southwest Mongolia. Stable. Trophy: Record CIC: 59.35 points, Mongolia; average 53 points.
Remarks: 1930 the estimated numbers in Kazakhstan and Dzungaria were about 1000 individuals. After protection by law they increased in recent years to 2 millions and more; to prevent overpopulation and diseases such as „foot and mouth“, about 200 000 annually should be harvested.