Herds of Saiga Antelope crossed Beringia from Asia. The last known Saiga in Canada was about 12,200 years ago. When the Ice Age ended, it is thought that Saiga Antelopes did not adapt to the changed habitat and died out in North America. It is not extinct. There are two groups living in Asia. The group in China is endangered. The two Saiga Antelope mounts in the Beringia Interpretive Centre came from the Russian herd. It is about the size of a large dog, with creamy yellow or whitish hair. The hair is hollow, like a caribou’s, so keeps it warm in cold weather. Its long nose helps it breathe safely in really cold weather as well as when its dusty. It has large eyes and excellent eyesight.
Only the males have horns. Their age can be told by counting the rings on the horns.
The Saiga Antelope is a herbivore. It eats many kinds of plants. Its’ habitat is on open flat windy land where it can find the food it likes and have a good chance to see any predators approaching. The wind keeps insects away and stops snow from piling too deeply over the grasses in winter. Its’ main enemies are wolves and people. To escape, the adult Saiga can run at speeds of up to 75 km. an hour. Newborns, usually twins, are hunted by foxes, stray dogs, eagles and ravens.
Photographed and Digitally enhanced by Ben Boyd
from Pleistocene Murial at University of Alaska Fairbanks
Museum of the North