Saving the Saiga – Morris Animal Foundation in a Race Against Time
Saiga antelope were once prolific in Asia, with a range extending from the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and Caucasus into Dzungaria and Mongolia. But these Dr. Seuss-like animals, with their comically elephant-like snouts, are now dangerously close to extinction because of an outbreak of a deadly virus. In a race against time, researchers supported by Morris Animal Foundation and caring donors, are working diligently to save these unique creatures.
One of those donors is George Pierce, who has “a great passion for wildlife,” especially endangered species. George first learned about Morris Animal Foundation through his support of the work of Dian Fossey. When the Foundation stepped in to help keep Dian Fossey’s dream remain alive after her untimely death, George was there to support the cause. He later joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, volunteering his services to ensure the Foundation could be an advocate of animal health for decades to come.
“I have a special fondness for animals,” said George. “I think that’s not uncommon for a lot of people. But when I look at critically endangered species, it’s depressing to me that mankind has so little regard for these creatures. I feel that I am a voice for those special animals. We are their last great hope.”
George learned of Morris Animal Foundation’s Save the Saiga Campaign, and felt this immediate need dovetailed with his love of wildlife and concern for threatened and endangered species around the world. George’s generous contribution to the campaign helps ensure “science boots-on-the-ground” are working to save the species.
Morris Animal Foundation began working to save the critically endangered saiga antelope earlier this year by providing a $50,000 grant to international researchers studying the deadly “goat plague” virus that is pushing the species closer to the brink of extinction. Our field researchers are training rangers and veterinarians on the ground, as well as working with local and national government agencies. However, more work is needed to stem the losses of not only the saiga, but other members of Mongolia’s unique and diverse fauna.
“We’re all part of the natural world. With wildlife, you have that connectivity; that part of us we all feel an affinity for,” said George. “Loss of wildlife and their habitat affects our survival; it affects us all. At the end of the day, our own survival is dependent on organizations like Morris Animal Foundation.”
Extinction doesn’t have to be the future for the saiga. What we do today can make a difference and benefit an entire species.
Categories: Animal welfare, Veterinary research , Wildlife health, Animal health