Researchers have reported a sharp increase in the number of saigas in Kazakhstan. Two years ago, they were on the verge of extinction.
The population of a rare species of antelope has more than doubled since 2019 – researchers note that this is a very rare phenomenon. According to the first aerial survey in two years, the number of saigas in Kazakhstan, their largest population area, has grown from 334 to 842 thousand.
In 2019, researchers feared the animal was on the brink of extinction following a mass extinction in 2015. Then pictures of carcasses scattered across the steppes hit the headlines of world newspapers.
After several conservation measures at once, including government measures to curb poaching, as well as local and international conservation measures, the number of the species began to recover. This, along with the natural stability of the species, gives hope for its full-fledged future, notes Albert Salemgareev from the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK).
However, the fate of saigas has already changed dramatically. But even with the current boom, their numbers are unlikely to recover to the millions that researchers recorded during the Soviet era. This is partly due to new threats – government infrastructure projects, oil, and gas development.
The latest survey, carried out in April, shows not only a significant increase in the total population but also a sharp recovery of one particular population in Ustyurt in the south of the country. In 2015, 1 thousand animals remained in this area, but during the new census, scientists found out that their number had increased to 12 thousand.