Saga of the Saiga
Lyrate horns of wax, translucent sheen, Hunters covet, sharp shoot and glean Hordes of saiga; their saga a lineage Of skulls and bones strewn, pillaged By poorest peasants. But the saiga’s True worth is right under their noses: Bones convolute and form superstructures Of skin and hairs, a flexile vacuum, an air blower And blunter, a siphon of dirt and sand, A pseudo trunk, a station of mucous glands Inflating and deflating like tiny dirigibles. Chinese medicines lay false claims to Mongols And Russians; the saigas vanish like their winter Coats, fur smattered and scattered, a bitter Reminder. Soon, the Ural Steppe will dull, Wild blooms will not bloom, nothing to cull.
Saiga antelope are evolutionary marvels with noses that filter out dirt in the summer and warm the air in the winter. Their populations are in dramatic decline and millions have been slaughtered for Chinese medicines. In 2015, there was a die-off of 120,000 saiga antelope (roughly a third of the population) caused by weakened immune systems and bacteria (Rabb 2015).