WCS colleagues advocated for wildlife at the 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva, with the Mongolia wildlife health team leading efforts to save Saiga, by working with the governments of Mongolia and the USA to have saiga listed in Appendix 1 during the CITES CoP18. Inclusion of saiga on Appendix I of CITES will help ensure that international commercial trade will not contribute to further declines and will help range states and other parties combat any illegal trade.
Said veterinarian and WCS Mongolia Director Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba: “Mongolian saiga have undergone significant mass mortality from December 2016 through March 2017 due to the Peste des Petits Ruminants virus that killed more than 60 percent of the population within a 4-month period. With our total saiga population remaining less than 3,000 in Mongolia, we are deeply concerned with the commercial trade plan of other saiga range states. The commercial trade will create high demand for saiga horn and thus may lead to uncontrolled poaching and wildlife trafficking which may wipe out the remaining saiga population of less than 3,000 in Mongolia." Dr Shiilegdamba’s wrote this commentary for Mongabay:
“With new protections, saiga antelope may continue to be a symbol of Central Asia”
Image: Wild male saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) visiting a waterhole at the Stepnoi Sanctuary, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia. Photo credit: Andrey Giljov, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.