Integrated livestock and wildlife disease surveillance and response supports Saiga conservation and livelihoods in Mongolia

WCS Mongolia
Published: 21 June 2022
Last edited: 08 July 2022
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Integrated livestock and wildlife monitoring, surveillance, and response are essential to guide the implementation of disease control measures to protect biodiversity and livelihoods. Improved wildlife surveillance and  analyses of disease outbreaks in Mongolia showed that wildlife were victims of livestock disease spillover, not the source of the outbreaks as had been previously thought. This avoided mass culling of wildlife and moved towards wildlife-friendly disease control efforts. Strategies for both livestock and wildlife are now being designed to control and eradicate Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) virus in Mongolia. The incorporation of wildlife is now recognized as essential in global PPR eradication strategies. With saiga sensitivity to disease epidemics more fully appreciated, increased trade protections through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were implemented, which will further help safeguard the Mongolian saiga’s survival.


North and Central Asia
Scale of implementation
Cold desert
Desert ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Rangeland / Pasture
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Access and benefit sharing
Food security
Land management
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Species management
Sustainable livelihoods
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Species Status Assessment
Wildlife Health Surveillance (to capture biodiversity, health, disease, and pathogen surveillance)
Species Monitoring and Research
Species Conservation Planning
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
Risk assessment
Outbreak investigation and access to laboratory
One Health coordination mechanism
One Health
Animal health
Biodiversity-health nexus
Food systems
Good governance of landscapes
Wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflicts
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of food security
Lack of infrastructure
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Target 6: Enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030
Target 7: Increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030




This solution addresses challenges to biodiversity conservation of saiga and other wild ungulates, as well as the wild carnivores that prey and rely on these animals as their food source. Improved surveillance and understanding of disease epidemiology leads to more appropriate interventions for disease control which addresses challenges to livestock health, with knock-on benefits to the livelihoods and economic security of the herders whose animals share the steppe environment with wild ungulates.


  • Herding communities who rely on livestock for their economic stability and livelihoods
  • Wild ungulates
  • Wild carnivores who rely on wild ungulates for food
  • All who rely on the integrity of the Mongolian steppe ecosystem

How do the building blocks interact?

Developing multi-sectoral communication and collaboration networks and capacity building across these sectors from local to national levels are essential components for successful wildlife surveillance for One Health intelligence and implementation of effective solutions in coordination with local communities. 


In the past, the role of wildlife in livestock disease outbreaks was misunderstood. During Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in 2000, Mongolian gazelle were viewed as reservoirs of the disease and subjected to mass culling. Temporal and spatial analyses supported by international wildlife health experts showed that gazelle were in fact the victims of spillover of the virus from livestock improving veterinary officials' understanding of the epidemiology of FMD. Mass destruction of wildlife was recognized as an ineffective control measure, and conservation-friendly management actions adopted. In 2016, PPR was diagnosed in domestic livestock, spread to wild ungulates, and killed over 80% of Mongolian Saiga. Wildlife surveillance identified that wildlife were victims and not the original source of infection. Instead of culling wildlife, expert advisors, environmental and veterinary sectors coordinated to vaccinate livestock and minimize spread of PPR, saving the critically endangered Mongolian Saiga population, which subsequently rebounded to 8,500 individuals.

The realization of the importance of wildlife and their ecological role in preserving the steppes is a great change in the veterinary sector. Partners are now working to design effective control strategies for both livestock and wildlife to eradicate PPR in Mongolia, and to incorporate wildlife into global PPR eradication strategies.

Contributed by

lKeatts_41893's picture

Lucy Keatts WCS