Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New mass die-off of Saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan

Nearly 500 Saiga found dead

September 2013. At the beginning of September another mass die-off of Saiga antelopes has been discovered in the Betpak-Dala population in Kazakhstan. The location is not far away from Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, south of Lake Tengiz.

According to official information, 493 animals were found dead, both females and males. A statement by the Committee of Forestry and Hunting of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan claimed Pasteurellosis as the reason for the die-off. However, investigations have been difficult since the carcasses have are not fresh. Team members of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative have been at the spot as well, but could not find any clear indications for a possible reason for this incident.

This group of Saiga antelopes is the eastern part of the Betpak-Dala population, living around Lake Tengiz. It is rather small, but is also recovering from very low population numbers a few years ago. The location is at the boundary of the Korgalzhyn reserve, which is part of the World Heritage Site "Sary-Arka".

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