West Kazakhstan’s Saiga Population Bounces Back

ASTANA – International experts have concluded that saiga antelopes are no longer in danger of extinction after visiting the Kaztalovsky and Zhanibek districts of the West Kazakhstan Region, reported Khabar news agency on May 23.

Photo credit: animalsglobe.ru. Click to see the map in full size.

Scientists from Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have discovered that the number of saiga has significantly increased over the past 20 years, which is leading to grievances among farmers with livestock.  

The region has nearly 1.5 million saigas, the largest population in the country. The birthing season in the region kicked off in early May. 

The scientists have proposed allowing commercial hunting to prevent the conflict with farmers. The use of saiga meat and derivatives can become profitable for the country, while also preserving their range and population.
“People should reap benefits from these saigas, for example in monetary or in social and economic forms by obtaining meat or license. These mechanisms are topics for further discussion,” said international expert Michel Stefan.

He used Germany as an example, where 1.3 million roe deer are hunted each year. 

“Kazakhstan is seven times the size of Germany and has seven times more acres of steppe. We only have farms. And a significantly lower population. As a result, I believe Kazakhstan’s saiga potential is far from being used,” said Stefan.

Local experts believe that the number of male saigas in the region should be 500,000 at most, although international experts have other opinions about their optimal number. 

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