Saiga through the bottleneck…and back?

By Razib Khan | May 22, 2013 7:26 am

Credit: Tierrascott

In the 1980s I was fascinated by the pictorially oriented books on the wildlife of the world which dated to the 1960s and 1970s. One of the great conservation success stories of that era were the Saiga antelope of Eurasia. In 1920 there were only 1,000-2,0000 Saia left in the world. By the 1960s their numbers were in the millions. And so it was until the 1980s.

But the combination of the collapse of the Soviet Union, for which the Saiga was a notable conservation success, and the rise of the Chinese economy, have resulted in another crisis for the Saiga. Today their number is between 10,000-50,000, in a few fragmented regions. And yet this is still higher than their early 20th century bottleneck! The Saiga clearly have the capacity to recover from dramatic population crashes. The key, to be frank, is to keep the Saiga a viable population as China ascends up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment
MORE ABOUT: Conservation
  • sf

    The Place of the Skull by Chingiz Aitmatov (Mar 1989)

    contains a haunting portrayal of the senseless killing of the SAIGA from helicopters, in the wanning years of the Soviet Union.

  • http://twitter.com/ElamBend Elam Bend

    So, encourage farming and private ownership of the Saiga?

    • razibkhan

      probably. you just need >1000

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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