CURRENT STATUS AND RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS OF SOME BIOLOGICAL PARAMETERS OF SAIGA POPULATIONS INHABITING TERRITORY OF RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN
Karimova T.Yu., Lushchekina A.A., Neronov V.M. CURRENT STATUS AND RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS OF SOME BIOLOGICAL PARAMETERS OF SAIGA POPULATIONS INHABITING TERRITORY OF RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN // Arid ecosystems. 2021. V. 27. № 2 (87). P. 57-67 | PDF
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the number of saigas (Saiga tatarica tatarica L., 1766) has sharply decreased twice as a result of human activity. But if for the first time the number of all four populations – the North-West Pre-Caspian, Ustyurt, Volga-Ural and Betpakdala – has recovered and by the 70-80s of last century there were more than 1 million heads, then the second time (since the beginning of the 21st century) an increase in the number of these ungulates was noted only for two populations – the Volga-Ural and Betpakdala. The aim of the study was to analyze the biological parameters of the four populations and to find out the differences that allowed saigas inhabiting the Volga-Ural interfluve and Betpakdala to overcome the depression phase and begin to recover their numbers. At the end of the 20th century, the economic situation in the states where saigas were widespread at that time led to an increase in poaching among the population, which led to a sharp decrease in the total number of these ungulates to 50,000. The area of the main range decreased 50 times for the saiga population of the North-West Pre-Caspian, 2.4-5 times for the other three populations. The length and mass of seasonal migrations also decreased, and the saiga population of the North-West Pre-Caspian has become practically sedentary. In the period of low numbers, all populations have shown a decrease in the number of herds of different sizes found throughout the year, and in 56-100% of cases, herds of up to 50 animals were registered. In the early 2000s, the main biological parameters characterizing the four saiga populations were comparable, with the proportion of adult males and the yield of young animals per female in July-August being higher than in the other three populations (11.5±1.9 and 0.81±0.18 vs. 8.7±3.8 and 0.48±0.40, respectively). The growth of the Volga-Ural and Betpakdala populations became possible primarily due to the organization of effective protection and education of the local people with the support of the state government and international funds, which allowed reduce the press of poaching significantly.
Keywords: saiga, number, spatial distribution, migration, population structure, fecundity.