The world is full of strange and wonderful wildlife. Few are stranger or more wonderful than these Saiga Antelope.
At the end of the USSR, there were over one million of these being well managed by the Soviet Union for hunting and food.
By the mid 2000's, that management and protection had disappeared and there were just 27,000 Saiga Antelope left. From 1 million!
Today, Kazakhstan and Russia are making efforts to protect these animals once more. In spite of ongoing and intense poaching, Saiga have recovered to over 100,000 again.
But for the love of god, just try to get close enough to one to get a picture! It's damn near impossible. These guys LOVE to run. Fast and far away from people.
In this reserve in Kazakhstan, they live on vast open fields which are completely flat to the horizon. As they are often poached by guns from moving vehicles,
the second your vehicle appears on the horizon, they take off. Of the hundreds I saw, they were rarely closer than a tiny dot way off in the distance.
These hyper-fast and ultra-shy runners have supersized noses to help with dust in the summer as well as warm incoming air to the lungs in the winter.
I ultimately was able to get some shots of these Dr Suess looking animals by laying flat in the grass along this lake beach as they approached unsuspecting.
Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve, Kazakhstan