President Tokayev prohibits culling of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan

The government wanted to half the saiga population to one million heads / Photo: Shutterstock

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wants to prohibit the culling of saiga antelopes. He announced his intention during a meeting with residents of the Kostanay region.

«The president said that he would call off the decision and prohibit the culling of the saiga antelopes, a symbol of the Kazakh steppe,» the Akorda reported.

The context. For years, the saiga was on the brink of extinction, prompting the government of Kazakhstan to protect the animals. However, when authorities succeeded with their wildlife conservation efforts, the antelopes became a pain in the neck for local farmers, complaining that saiga destroyed their crops. In response to these complaints, the country’s cabinet approved the culling of saiga under the national program for regulating wild species populations.

The government wanted to cut the saiga population by half and keep it at one million heads. This meant that every increase in the population must have been culled; this was capped at 20% of the entire animal population, though.

The culling of the saiga antelopes caused public outrage as many people believe that the saiga antelopes are unique and precious animals that must be protected. President Tokayev agreed with this argument and instructed the cabinet to find another way to regulate the saiga population.

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