Meet your new favourite animal.This is the saiga antelope and although it can be found grazing on the steppes of Kazakhstan it wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Star Wars.
image credit: zeit
Although endangered, conservation efforts are beginning to bear fruit as numbers increase. Today, the dominant subspecies (S. t. tatarica) is only found in one location in Russia (in The Republic of Kalmykia) and three areas in Kazakhstan.
image credit: savenaturesavehuman
They are extinct in China and Mongolia due to being excessively hunted for their horns that are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
image credit: zoochat
After the USSR collapse, Saiga antelopes were excessively hunted for their horns and as a source of food in Kazakhstan decreasing the amount of living species down to 21,000 by the beginning of next millennia.
The Kazakhstan government banned Saiga hunting imposing severe punishments and is actively fighting poachers in attempt to save the species.
Despite their awkward running gait, head down, stubby legs on either side driving in tandem, they can clock 50 miles an hour (80 kilometres an hour) on their long migrations.