Kazakh reserve set aside as refuge for Saiga antelope


Nur-Sultan, May 31 (EFE) .- A nature reserve in western Kazakhstan will provide additional protection for the Saiga antelope, an endemic species whose numbers fell by more than 90 percent at the end of the 20th century but who has recently made a comeback.

“The creation of the Bokeyorda Nature Reserve is another important step in the restoration of the Saiga population in Kazakhstan,” said Ayan Meirash, spokesperson for the forestry committee of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the nation of Kazakhstan. ‘Central Asia, in Efe.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced in a meeting with Minister of Ecology Magzum Mirzagaliev the decision to allocate 657,000 hectares of land to Bokeyorda and Ashiozeks nature reserves in western Kazakhstan to facilitate migration from this bovid.

The number of Saiga has grown from over one million in 1990 to just over 21,000 in 2003, Ecology ministry spokesman Samal Ibraeva told Efe.

In 2002, this species, whose horns are highly valued in Chinese medicine, was placed on the “Red List” of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of critically endangered animals.

“The main reasons for the decline in the population of this species were disease and poaching,” Ibraeva explained.

However, in the past two years, the population of this rare type of antelope, which bears the scientific name saiga tatarica and is known for its distinctive oversized nose, has nearly doubled – from 334,000 to 842,000 – thanks to a series of measurements. conservation, says Mirzagaliev.

The vast majority of Saiga antelopes live in the largest country in Central Asia, although this species can also be found in southern Russia and Uzbekistan.

Ibraeva pointed out that in 2005, the Kazakh government adopted its first conservation program for the saiga and other rare and endangered ungulate species, an initiative focused on the protection of these animals in breeding areas and during the seasons. winter and migration.

In addition, the Irgiz-Turgaysky State Nature Reserves (in the Western Aktobe Region) and Altyn Dala (in the Northern Kostanay Region) were established.

Measures taken by the Kazakh government to protect the Saiga population included a ban on poaching in 2012 (extended until 2023), with sentences of up to 12 years in prison and confiscation of property.

The horns of the Saiga antelope are coveted in traditional Chinese medicine to cure all kinds of illnesses and can be valued at up to $ 5,000 (around $ 4,090) each, providing a clear economic incentive for poaching and the black market. EFE

kk-fss / cae / acm / lap-mc

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