40,000+ Antelopes Mysteriously Die
Death of Critically Endagered Antelope Herd Remains a Mystery
40,000 of the critically endangered steppe-dwelling saiga antelopes have reportedly died—under circumstances which have left geoecologists and other researchers devastated. At first it started in May, with just a few of these majestic creatures found dead, which scientists thought to be normal, in keeping with past herd life cycles.
One by one, the animals fell critical to their demise. Now, the entire herd of steppe-dwelling antelopes has been lost.
It happened in just under a week.
“The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species,” said one of the scientists. “It’s really unheard of.”
Exactly why the animals died still remains a mystery.
The last major die-off of this species happened in 1988 during the Soviet Era. The region lost a total of 400,000 saiga due to a massive outbreak of what appears to have been a disease called Pasteurella, though Soviet-era research dedicated to this problem was extremely limited. The recently-dead animals are reported to have been eliciting similar symptoms. So far, genetic tests have not revealed a true cause, though scientists speculate that cold-harsh winters and warm-lush wet springtime with an excess of standing water in the environment could have played a large role in the potential demise of this herd. Although the cause of the deaths are speculated to be due in part to a normally harmless microbe, reseachers are still baffled as to how the herd might have potentially lost resistance.
Saiga Antelopes In Crisis
As of today more than 120,000 total saiga antelope have been confirmed dead in the Betpak-Dala region of central Kazakhstan, representing more than a third of the global population.
Hunting bans on the antelope are scheduled to remain in effect until 2021 as Central Asia seeks to restore the species.
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