TAXONOMY

Capra tatarica (Linnaeus, 1766), “Ural Steppes,” western Kazakhstan.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Saiga; French: Saïga.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Saiga antelopes have a head and physique size of three.3–5.6 ft (100–170 cm), tail size of two.4–5.2 in (6–13 cm), shoulder top of two.0–2.6 ft (60–80 cm), and weight of 66–152 lb (30–69 kg). Their most distinctive characteristic is a big head with a bulging form and with an enormous, inflatable humped nostril that hangs over its mouth and with downward-pointing nostrils. This fleshy nostril has a novel inside construction, with convoluted bones, mucoussecreting glands, and many hairs. The massive nostril is believed to filter out airborne mud throughout summer season migrations and to warmth the chilly air earlier than getting to the lungs throughout winters. The eyes seem to stand out on small, bony protrusions when seen straight on. Their senses of listening to and odor are poorly developed, however their eyesight is acute, and they're in a position see hazard up to 0.6 mi (1 km) away. Males possess a pair of lengthy, semitranslucent, waxy coloured horns with ring-like ridges alongside their decrease two-thirds of size, which develop 8–10 in (20–25 cm) lengthy. Except for his or her unusually massive snout and horns, they resemble small sheep. They have lengthy, spindly legs that assist a barely strong physique. The hooves are barely broader on the rear. During summer season months, they've a cinnamon-buff to yellowish crimson again and neck with a paler underside. The summer season coat is brief and virtually clean. In the winter, the coat turns into denser and longer, and it turns a muted grey to virtually a white coloration on the again and neck and a lightweight brownish grey shade on the underside. The winter coat, wanting wool-like, could also be up to twice as lengthy and 70% thicker than the summer season coat. A course set of bristly hairs protects them from the cruel climate. They have a really quick tail that's at all times gentle in coloration. There is a small mane on the underside of the neck.

DISTRIBUTION

Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan, northern Uzbekistan, southwestern Mongolia, and Singkiang, China.

HABITAT

Dry steppes and semideserts. Herds are discovered totally on flat, open areas (reminiscent of plains) lined with low rising vegetation (reminiscent of grasses) that don't include rugged terrain and hills. They typically don't transfer greater than about 2–Four mi (3–6 km) per hour whereas grazing. But, might transfer 75–125 mi (120–200 km) inside two days when extreme frost cuts off their food provides.

BEHAVIOR

Saiga antelopes are a really timid and simply startled species, which might trigger speedy flights for security. They are a polygamous species. During the breeding season they congregate into teams consisting of 5–10 females and one male. Males are very protecting of their harem of females, with violent fights usually breaking out (and generally main to demise) between males. Because males don't feed throughout the mating season, somewhat they spend most of their time defending their harem; they develop very weak close to the tip of the breeding season. As a consequence, male mortality usually reaches 80–90%. At the tip of breeding season, herds will type consisting of 30–40 people, however will type once more firstly of subsequent 12 months’s breeding season. They are a nomadic herding species, migrating as a gaggle for food, and so as to escape such climate as snowstorms and droughts. Seasonal migrations transfer north within the spring to the summer season grazing grounds, and return south-ward within the fall. Spring migrations might embrace 200,000 people in a herd, whereas summer season teams have solely 30–40 members. They haven't any mounted dwelling vary, and normally stroll 48–72 mi (80–120 km) in a day. When they march, their heads are sometimes stored low to the bottom. They have a tendency to keep away from areas of damaged terrain or dense cowl as a result of such floor will not be conducive to quick working. They are superb runners, and are in a position to attain accelerates to 48 mph (80 kph). During the day, they graze and go to watering holes, however might relaxation throughout noon. Before night time they dig a small spherical melancholy within the floor that serves as their mattress.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Saiga antelopes are herbivores, grazing on over 100 completely different plant species; nonetheless, crucial are grasses, herbs, prostrate summer season cypress, saltworts, fobs, sagebrush, steppe lichens, and different vegetation containing salt. They will usually eat vegetation that include toxic substances, which aren't eaten by different animals. They will go to watering holes about twice a day when moist vegetation are usually not obtainable.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. They have a excessive price of replica the place in a positive season they could develop in inhabitants up to 60% in a single 12 months. The rutting season begins within the wintering grounds, when males change into territorial in an try to achieve a harem of normally 5–25 females. During the mating season, which solely lasts 6–7 days, males will solely eat snow, utilizing most of its time to defend its harem from lurking males. Females attain ####ual maturity at 7–Eight months, whereas males attain ####ual maturity at 20–24 months. The breeding interval lasts from late November to late December, with births occurring from the tip of March to May. The gestation interval is about 140–150 days, and normally provides start to two, generally three, younger after the primary 12 months (wherein just one is generally born). Mothers normally drop their calves inside just a few days of one another. Newborns will lie hid and motionless for the primary three days, and then will start to graze at 4–Eight days outdated on bits of inexperienced food. The lactation interval lasts for about 4 months, and the weaning interval is 3–Four months. Very few animals dwell past 3.5 years of age, however identified lifespan within the wild is 6–12 years, with males particularly vulnerable to demise after fasting throughout the mating season, simply earlier than the chilly winter season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Critically Endangered. They are threatened from elevated habitat loss and degradation primarily from human disturbances, together with the persevering with presence of unlawful looking for meat and male horns (for medicinal properties). Their most harmful predators are wolves, foxes, and birds of prey.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

They are hunted for his or her fur, meat, and horns. The horns are thought of as their most useful characteristic. Horns are floor up and utilized in Chinese medicines to cut back fevers. They often destroy agricultural vegetation and feed on crops.