Saiga is a small antelope, with thin but strong legs. You can recognize a saiga by the soft trunk on its head. It lives in the desert, steppe, in places where there is no dense vegetation. The herd of these animals consists of an average of fifty individuals. Their life expectancy is 8-10 years.
Ways to hunt saiga
Saiga hunting has been common since ancient times. The main purpose of hunting saiga is the animal’s skin, meat and its valuable horns. The most popular way of hunting is to approach saiga with a gun. During the attack of skin gadflies on the herd, the animals, trying to escape, rush all over the steppe. In an exhausted state, they are able to let hunters get a shot. Hunters are waiting for this period. Also, saiga hunting by the approach method is carried out at watering holes and from ambush.
Hunting for saiga by the corral method is used constantly. Hunters drive the herd towards the hunters who were sitting in ambush. In ancient times, saigas were driven by dogs or on horses. Hunters replaced tired dogs with other dogs. Only a dog can catch up with an exhausted, tired, saiga that has fallen into the nast.
Golden eagle was also used for hunting saiga. The dogs found the saiga and drove to the right place, where the hunter released the hunting bird. The golden eagle clawed at the animal and tried to gouge out its eyes. By this time, the hunter arrived in time, the blinded animal is an easy prey. You also need to have equipment for the hike, which will stop the torment of the animal in the claws of the bird.
The advent of motorized transport has completely changed the hunting of saigas. It is important not to scare the animal by approaching a car or motorcycle. If the herd is not frightened, it goes to approach the car by itself. Saigas jump parallel to the course of the car at the nearest distance. Frightened antelopes, seeing an approaching car, quickly break away from the pursuit and jump into the sands, where it is impossible to catch up with them.
Motorcyclists use the “ring corral” method. A motorcyclist cuts off a group of saigas from the entire herd and drives them in a big circle. In hot weather, the animal cannot withstand such “races” and dies on the move.
Saiga hunting in Kalmykia
In the steppe territories of Kalmykia, the habitation of these unique animals is very common. In addition, wolves following the saiga become frequent prey for hunters here. The steppes of Kalmykia are covered with dunes and small ravines, which allows the hunter to approach the wolf for a shot. During the hunting in the camp in Kalmykia, hunters are accompanied by experienced guides who will help, if necessary, at any stage of the hunt, including in the processing and packaging of trophies.
Ban on saiga hunting
Everything is valuable for this antelope – meat, skin, but horns are especially valuable. They are used for the preparation of medicines in China, Thailand, Korea, etc. Once this type of animal inhabited all of Asia and Europe. In China, the saiga was destroyed many years ago.
Unfortunately, the use of valuable horns of this rare animal has greatly reduced the number of saiga. And an increase in the price of horns provokes poaching. In this regard, a ban was imposed on the sport and commercial hunting of this animal, the turnover of derivatives obtained from saigas, the purchase and sale of their horns, etc. Saiga hunting is prohibited until the end of 2020.
Moreover, due to the reduction of the population of these animals, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Kalmykia intends to include the saiga in the regional edition of the Red Book. At the moment, extensive work is being carried out to preserve the number of saiga in Kalmykia.