Saiga antelope and Black-tail Gazelle starve amid freezing temperatures

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Wildlife is struggling to survive as the temperature slips below -40 degrees Celsius.

Rare animals, such as the Saiga antelope and Black-tail Gazelle, have been facing a shortage of food since last summer, which was evidently warmer than in most years. The extremely cold weather and continuous snowfall in early January have worsened the situation.

So far, 16 Saiga antelopes were found dead in addition to an undetermined number of dead Mongolian gazelles, according to B.Batsaikhan, a team leader of the Saiga Conservation Alliance.

Experts from the World Wildlife Fund Mongolia have been taking biotechnical measures and placing some hay in areas near wildlife habitats to help them survive.

B.Batsaikhan stated, “We’re placing bundles of hay and animal feed for animals living around Sharga Govi in Govi-Altai Province. Areas, where most Saiga antelopes live in, are getting very cold. Five Saiga antelopes died in Khuisiin Govi. We got a report that another five were found dead in Darvi are in Khovd Province. Black-tail Gazelles are dying in large numbers as well.  Forecasts say that the weather will get warmer in the coming days but Saiga antelopes are having a hard time surviving the harsh weather. Five or six Saiga antelopes and Black-tail Gazelles have died in Sharga Gobi.”

The team plans to set up surveillance cameras near the areas where hay and feed were placed to monitor their consumption. The team has used up half of 400 bundles of hay and 40 sacks of animal feed provided by the World Wildlife Fund. B.Batsaikhan said that the team will continue the conservation measure until next week.

An evident growth has been observed in the population of Saiga antelopes in the past 10 years. In 2014, their population reached 14,000 and their habitat expanded by 13 percent. However, an alarming number of Saiga antelopes died in the cattle plague, which occurred at the end of 2016. According to a wildlife census in March 2017, just around 5,000 Saiga antelopes were inhabited in Mongolia.

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