Kazakhstan considers killing 80,000 saiga antelopes

Wild saiga antelopes, photo: Rostislav Mashin via Canva

Kazakhstan is considering to kill 80,000 saiga antelopes, the ecology ministry told news agency AFP. The government said that since the population of saiga antelopes rebounded, the animals are a threat to farmers.

Government officials said that conservation efforts have seen the number of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan increase from under 200,000 in 2015 to 1.3 million.

“We have a scientific recommendation to regulate the population of saigas,” a spokeswoman said. “We are studying it, but no final decision has been taken.”

Kazakhstan’s huge desert is home to most of the world’s Saiga antelopes, who also live in Russia’s Kalmykia region and Mongolia.

A ban on hunting introduced in the late 1990s is set to end in 2023 and Kazakhstan’s ecology minister Serikkali Brekeshev mentioned that the ministry had “made a decision” about regularly culling up to 10 percent of the saiga population in western Kazakhstan.

“Today…saigas cross over not only into pasture land but also farmland. It’s a definite problem,” Brekeshev was quoted by local media.

But the ministry spokeswoman said that any decision would need to be approved by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and that public opinion would be considered.

Kazakhstan intensified their crackdown on illegal hunting of saiga antelopes in 2019 after two state rangers were killed by poachers, causing widespread anger.

In 2015, more than half the global population of saiga antelopes died from a nasal bacterium that spread in the unusually hot and humid conditions.

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