The Saiga Antelope remains the most distinctive looking species of antelope in the world. This animal actually has a proboscis similar to a walrus.
Sadly, the Saiga Antelope also holds the classification of critically endangered, according to the IUCN. This animal once inhabited an enormous portion of the Eurasian steppe. But now their population only inhabits portions of The Republic of Kalmykia, and Kazakhstan.
Mankind hunted the Saiga Antelope almost to the point of extinction in the 1920s. Fortunately, they managed to recover somewhat. Historically, hunting of the creatures occurred extensively among local populations.
The greatest threats to its existence as a species remain a mysterious malady and extensive hunting for the procurement of its horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Saiga Antelope Physical Description
The most immediately noticeable feature of the Saiga Antelope is its unique proboscis. This is actually an over-sized nose structure which serves two purposes.
During migrations in the summer, it serves to filter out dust, and during the winter it heats up the frigid air before it enters the lungs. This represents a rather remarkable adaptation.
The Saiga Antelope displays a slight degree of sexual dimorphism, with the males being larger in size than the females. Additionally, the males develop moderately large, and uniquely colored horns, while the females are hornless.
Males may reach a height at the shoulder of as much as 2.5 ft (0.8 m), and weigh as much as 139 lb ( 63 kg). The Saiga Antelope is predominantly various shades of tan in color, except for the belly and throat. These are typically a white or cream color.