"Scientific Name: Saiga tatarica
Approx. Size: 2-3 ft., 75-150 lb.
Diet: Grasses, herbs, shrubs
The saiga is actually a close relative of the sheep, yet it is usually included in the antelope family because of its close physical resemblance. It is considered an intermediate between the sheep and the antelope. The saiga lives in herds that graze the vast steppe valley linking Kazakhstan, Siberia, and northwestern China. Its geographic range once included Eastern Europe, but poaching has drastically diminished its numbers, and the saiga no longer exists in the region. The populations of China are also at risk because the saiga’s horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The saiga is instantly recognizable by its strangely shaped, enlarged nose, which droops down over its mouth. In winter, this special nose helps to warm air before it reaches the lungs. In summer, it filters airborne dust and natural pollutants. Bearing a cinnamon-colored coat that thickens and whitens in the winter, the saiga can blend into its environment to avoid predators. It is also a very fast and agile animal, moving up to 80 mph, and can even swim across rivers to reach its destination. Female saiga are especially noteworthy because of their ability to bear young at the early age of eight months."