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Saiga to be reintroduced into the market: Kazakhstan Minister 13 июня 2014, 19:51

Kazakhstan Minister of Environment declared that saiga antelopes may be reintroduced into the market after the population is large enough.
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Photo courtesy of bigpicture.ru Photo courtesy of bigpicture.ru

Saiga antelopes may be reintroduced on the market after its population is large enough, the Minister of Environment and Water Resources of Kazakhstan Nurlan Kapparov said at today's press-briefing, Tengrinews reports.

"There was a time when we adopted a program to increase the population (of saiga antelopes). And this program is very successful. In 2004-2005 the population was down to 30,000. But with this program in place we are taking very serious measures to protect the saiga population from poaching. All of this is paying off: we have increased the population to 256,000 already. The experts say that in the next 5-10 years it is possible to bring this number to half a million in Kazakhstan. It is a major increase,” Kapparov informed.

He continued by stating that at some point in the future when the population is sufficient, it will be possible to introduce saiga antelope as a product back into the market. He nevertheless did not specify what this product will be.

In the past, saiga was valued for its meat, horns and skin. The nomads hunted saiga, however, this happened in amounts which maintained the normal population of the animal. In the 1920’s saiga was almost completely exterminated, but thanks to Soviet preservation efforts the population steadily increased. After the collapse of the USSR, uncontrolled hunting of saiga resulted in the loss of nearly 95% of the saiga population. This was mainly due to the demand for saiga horns in traditional Chinese medicine. Kazakhstan government introduced a legislation at the nation level to protect the endangered species. The minister’s words suggest that these are paying off.

The minister added that "until now we are just guarding, increasing the population." He said that saiga records completed in spring this year showed that the number of saiga in Kazakhstan has increased by 37 percent against its minimum.

"The International Wildlife Fund said that our program for protection of saiga received international recognition,” Kapparov concluded.

Reporting by Aidana Usupova, writing by Dinara Urazova

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