Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Thousands of Saiga Antelope die in mass mortality mystery

Nearly 140, 000 of the critically endangered saiga antelope (saiga tatarica), which lives in the Central Asian steppe, have died suddenly in Kazakhstan, almost half the global population, over a two week period.

The reason for this mass die-off is still unknown, and the mystery continues to baffle conservationists, who arrived in the breeding areas to find entire herds dying or dead on the ground, the majority consisting of mothers and new born calves. Herds several kilometres apart succumbed at the same time, mystifying scientists as to what has caused this population crash.

Nida Al Fulaij, from one of the charities involved in investigating the circumstances, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, says, "PTES has been supporting work on saiga antelope through the Saiga Conservation Alliance for some years and, because we have such strong links with the teams on the ground, we are able to respond quickly to channel much needed financial support where it’s most needed. This event is simply catastrophic for the long term survival of this critically endangered species.

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