Saiga antelope (Saiga spp.) CMS STATUS Appendix II CMS INSTRUMENT(S) MoU concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope
The Saiga antelope is a migratory herbivore of the steppes and deserts of Central Asia and Russia, capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres north to south on its annual migrations. Saigas have been hunted since prehistoric times and today poaching remains the primary threat to this critically endangered species. The Saiga is particularly valuable for its horn, which is used in Chinese traditional medicine, but is also hunted for its meat. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Saiga populations crashed by more than 95 per cent within a decade. In response, the Saiga was listed on Appendices II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and CMS. These two treaties collaborate closely to address both Saiga population management and illegal trade in synergy. Since 2006, a CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Saiga Antelope has been in force, which has been signed by all range states.
Threats to migratory pathways and critical sites While a number of Saiga populations are starting to stabilize, three continue to be in a precarious state (North-West Pre-Caspian, Ural and Ustiurt populations). Recent disease-related mass mortality events
in the Ural population, during which 12,000 and 450 Saigas died in May 2010 and May 2011 respectively, have reduced this population by one-third. The two transboundary populations (Ural, Ustiurt) are declining most severely. Well-equipped commercial poachers are
Figure 11: Saiga antelope populations. 36