Possibly the biggest conservation blunder ever

What would we give for rhino poaching to stop? Is there a cost too great? What about sacrificing another species?

That is exactly what the WWF did in the early 1990s. In a desperate attempt to stop Chinese from utilizing rhino horn, they recommended the use of Saiga antelope horns instead. At the time, the population was in the millions.

saiga antelope by darwin initiative

        Saiga antelope photo: Darwin initiative

But the spike in Saiga hunting between 1993 and 1998, resulted in the decimation of half the species. As only the males have horns, the loss has resulted in an unbalance of the sexes. With so few males left, the population has continued to steadily decline, with the birth rate continuing to drop.

saiga antelope range wwf

                              Saiga antelope range via WWF

In an area with one of the most endangered herds in central Kazakhstan, aerial surveys  revealed no adult or juvenile males, only females. Time is of the essence to bring in males, as the animals normally only live for three to four years, according to leading expert Eleanor Milner-Gulland of Imperial College, London.

In May of 2015, there was another devastating blow to the species, with over 200,000 killed by a mystery illness in just two weeks. Before the mass die off, there were thought to be only 250,000 left.

saiga antelope dieoff

Bodies were counted and buried in Kazakhstan. Photo: Washington Post

Conservationists met at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to develop a five year plan to address threats facing the species, including disease, habitat encroachment and poaching. With the combined factors of nature and man at work, it’s difficult to imagine the species making a comeback.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Possibly the biggest conservation blunder ever

  1. BLUNDER!…..BLUNDER!….that’s putting it mildly. The inmates are running the asylum. This is why I no longer support WWF. This is not the only bad press regarding WWF that I have come across. So glad you have highlighted this insanity – hopefully there will not be another of it’s like…..but I won’t be holding my breath! Thank you for posting.

  2. Reblogged this on Ravens-Tree.com and commented:
    BLUNDER!…..BLUNDER!….that’s putting it mildly. The inmates are running the asylum. This is why I no longer support WWF. This is not the only bad press regarding WWF that I have come across. So glad you have highlighted this insanity – hopefully there will not be another of it’s like…..but I won’t be holding my breath!

    • In order to stop the poaching and the extermination of animals, we need to bring back some kind of controlled hunting. People might hate me for saying this, but when the hunting stopped in many African countries, the poachers moved in and the countries don’t have the resources to employ enough guards to save the rhinos, elephants lions and many other species. The white hunters took care of the elephants, rhinos et cetera but they have all gone and now we have a very serious situation which nobody will be able to change for a long term.

  3. this is ridiculous! what are people thinking. i know…money…i am a buddhist…and as his holiness says…all suffering comes from short sightedness and greed. this is a perfect example of both!!!

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