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Saiga

The Saiga (Saiga tatarica), is a species of antelope which originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone from the foothills of the Carpathians and Caucasus into Dzungaria and Mongolia. Today they can only be found in a few areas in Russia, Kazakhstan, and western Mongolia. During the Ice Age they occurred from the British Isles through central Asia and the Bering Strait into Alaska.

The Saiga stands 23.5 to 31.5 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 79 and 139 pounds. Males are bigger than females and are the only sex to carry horns. The horns have some value as Chinese traditional medicine and for that reason Saiga are now endangered by poaching. The Saiga is recognizable by an extremely unusual, over-sized, and flexible, nose structure. The nose is supposed to warm up the air in winter and filters out the dust in summer.

Saigas form very large herds that graze in semi-desert steppes eating several species of plants, including some that are poisonous to other animals. They can cover considerable distances and swim across rivers, but they avoid steep or rugged areas. The mating season starts in November, when stags fight for the possession of females. The winner leads a herd of 5-50 females. In springtime the mother gives birth to 2 or sometimes only one young.

Saiga


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