The Saiga Antelope

Saiga Antelope Doodlewash - watercolor sketch of male antelope with horns

Today’s uncommon creature is the critically endangered saiga antelope (suggested by Dream of the Scribble Fiend). Habitat loss and illegal hunting have dramatically cut population numbers, but the odd face and bulbous nose of this creature makes it unlikely he would ever be the start of conversation posters. The large humped nose looks super strange but it actually serves a pretty important purpose. Since the nose is flexible and inflatable it helps the animal to breathe clean air during dusty summers and warm air during cold winters.

The saiga antelope can be found on the Asian continent in only three locations: Kalmykia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The horn of the saiga antelope is thought to have therapeutic properties and was used in traditional Chinese medicine, effectively wiping out the population in China. In Singapore, merchants are selling “Cooling Water” right alongside other herbal drinks. However, the magic ingredient in this water, which is thought to contain wondrous properties to bring down one’s “heatiness,” are horn shavings from the endangered saiga antelope. Since only males have horns, this has caused a collapse in reproductive rates in the wild.

Unlike deer antlers that fall off every year, antelope antlers are permanent. Sadly, most consumers believe the horns are found naturally and are obtained without killing the creature. This is not at all the case, and the people actually selling the product are well aware of the short supply. So the tourists and locals are basically beating the heat by sipping on an endangered antelope. File this under crazy, but true. Some humans never cease to amaze in their stunning stupidity, perhaps making them, not the animals, the most uncommon creatures of all.


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Quinacrodine Gold, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Sennelier L’aqaurelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
50 Comments
  1. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    I’m ashamed at people who poach, Charlie, or ‘kill for demand’, but I’ll leave that there.
    This animal looks like a cross between fantasy and reality, and the antlers have a definite devilish look to them in your painting. I’ve never heard of a Saiga Antelope before, but now that I know their story, I would love to see one in my reality.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Tom! Yeah…it’s pretty shameful what some people will do to make a buck. This is a pretty cool creature that I hope will be with us for some time! Definitely one I would like to see in person as well.

  2. Jodi 1 year ago

    How sad and what a cutie! You are teaching me so much this month charlie! Who knew about all of these beautiful, unusual creatures! 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Jodi! 😃💕 I’m learning about these as I go…there are so many creatures I never knew existed. Glad you’re learning along with me!

  3. Very well said,Charlie, if voted by all of the animals on the planet we would indeed be one of the most stupid species around. Thank you for the sad story of this antelope, such a lovely animal, with an amazing adaptation to cope with its environment.

    • Author

      Thanks Rebecca! 💕😃 I find these beautiful creatures and doodlewash them only to find out something sad. But I guess it’s good to learn and spread the word about them.

  4. Teri C 1 year ago

    You did a beautiful job on this poor animal. Such a sad story on this interesting animal.

  5. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    An elephant’s his mudder
    a unicorn’s his brudder
    the father’s unknown
    probably a clone
    that looks like no udder.

  6. What a cool and useful nose! Thanks for the lovely painting and introduction. Maybe these animals need a Public Service Announcement: Feeling hot? Don’t kill an antelope. Take a cold shower.

    • Author

      Awesome PSA Myriam!! 😃💕 hehe…I agree…these animals need a bit more PR… when they’re not cuddly and cute, they tend to get overlooked!

      • Glad you are giving cute and interesting faces around the world some good PR 🙂 . Sounds like a few people are sending the Saiga Antelope some good vibes.

  7. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    I’ve never seen this antelope! What an interesting nose it has and to think it can inflate it further. 😜 Sad that humans are killing it for its horns. 😬 Amazing doodlewash, Charlie! 🎨👍💕

  8. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Chinese Medicine…it’s been bad for animals.
    This is such a unique creature! Sending out good vibes for its survival.
    Thanks for the (as usual) wonderful rendering and all the information too! (K)

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe! 😃💕Yes… Sometimes traditions need to end and common sense needs to become tradition. These guys need all the positive vibes they can get!

  9. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    Ugh…that drives me insane, the stupidity of people and their willingness to believe in unsubstantiated “medical” claims. And it is always the animals that suffer. 🙁

    But your Saiga antelope is darling in that ALF way! <3

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa! 😃💕Yeah….it’s maddening how ridiculous the human animal can be sometimes. And yes! That’s it…it’s totally ALF…wonder if this was the inspiration.

  10. jmnowak 1 year ago

    I think it is trying to be an elephant, as Curious Max says! Well, I’m glad you, and some others here in the comments, have realised that Man is the stupidest animal on Earth…even David Attenborough agrees…watch his documentaries (my hero…he’s more diplomatic, yet emphatic, in his view on the matter). An excellent doodle, Charlie! 😀

    • Author

      Thanks Janina!! 😃💕Yeah…Man sometimes seem like an animal that needs a bit more time to evolve. But glad you liked the doodlewash of this unique creature!

  11. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Amazing creature Charlie, and an amazing nose. He looks like a Star Wars character. Thank you for your always interesting and detailed article.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! 😃💕 Glad you liked this one. He does look like something that might show up in Star Wars. I think these uncommon creatures must be what artists use for inspiration when designing aliens. 😉

  12. debiriley 1 year ago

    Amazing! Very enlightening, Thank You Charlie. It is good that you are making us all aware of some of these animals and their situations.

    • Author

      Thanks Debi! 😃💕So pleased you liked this post… I had know any about any of this before starting this little adventure. Any little bit to spread the word I guess is something.

      • debiriley 1 year ago

        yes, certainly makes us Aware!! 🙂

  13. Jacob 1 year ago

    Bless him, I think he’s cool – I’m seeing several creatures merged into one; that’s nature. Sadly I think the braindead homo sapien is one of the most common creatures around.

    This talk of antelopes has reminded me of the Dik-Dik… there’s one for you 😉 are they uncommon though? I’ve no idea, I just enjoy the name.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jacob! Yeah… braindead humans seem to be on the uptick, which makes it feel almost as though that zombie apocalypse might not be so far-fetched or actually already happened. 😉And I’d never heard of a Dik-Dik, so that’s uncommon to me! hehe… they’re so cute!! And of course the name is giggle-worthy. Particularly the one version that came up “Kirk’s Dik-Dik”… lol

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Haha, well, I resisted saying I’m sure your dik-dik would be most impressive. But apparently I’ve not been able to resist saying it this time. They are so cute aren’t they! Those big eyes!

      • Author

        Yeah…those eyes win. It’s highly likely you’re going to see my dik-dik soon! Haha…I love being 8 again!! 😊

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Yes! Now that’s what I like to hear, Charles! 😉 I know – I imagine the grown-ups here are tutting with disapproval at our comments. Oh well!

      • Author

        Oh no! There are grown-ups viewing this blog??? Uh-oh… I’m totally going to get grounded.

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Phineas will be the one who has you grounded. 😉 Well, at least it means more time to doodlewash! And, indeed, more time to see (and plant) euphemisms in writing, and basically continue doing what got you grounded in the first place.

      • Author

        Excellent! Then all is well!

  14. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Once again I will have to say nature never ceases to amaze me. That unfortunate nose may not be attractive but this antelope is lucky to have such a useful device. A learning experience for all of us, thank you Charlie!

    • Author

      Thanks Susan!😃💕 Glad you enjoyed learning about this guy. Yeah… that nose is a bit weird, but makes this guy fascinating to look at!

  15. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Beautiful painting you have rendered the fascinating features in such a cute and adorable way. Their current plight is heartbreaking and sad. Positive vibes they survive and flourish again.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Haunani! 😃💕 It seems a large percentage of these unusual creatures have the same main predator and its always humans. Let’s hope this one can survive us!

  16. Kari 1 year ago

    What an unusual creature! I have to look to see the nose expand! Reminds me of an elephant trunk! Lol.

  17. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a wonderful creature. He does look like a mix of so many other critters. He really is wonderful. I’m so sorry to hear of his demise, people are really stupid aren’t they? We are just so busy being narrow minded filling the world with trash instead of rejoicing and appreciating nature and all it’s wonders. Beautiful and thoughtful Doodlewash Charlie.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Cathe! 😃💕Yeah… I like that this month I’ve giving the stage over to some of these less known animals. When they’re not on our radar we tend to ignore their plight. The world would be such a happy place if we learned how to live alongside nature instead of always destroying it!

  18. kathiwerner 1 year ago

    Wonderful creature (and drawing) ! And a shame it is threatened.

    • Author

      Thanks Kathrin! 😃💕 Yes…it’s such a terrible shame that so many of these unique creatures are becoming endangered.

  19. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    So frustrating that so many ignorant people believe their health or virility is dependent on the death of a rare and wonderful animal. Your art is, as always, wonderful.

  20. Scribble Fiend 1 year ago

    What! I totally missed this when you posted it, I’m sorry! I’m so glad you decided to give the Saiga a go, though. It’s so good! How can you not love that face!

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