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Researchers Perplexed By Massive Die-Off Of Antelopes

The phenomenon was first reported in the latter days of May.  When a geoecologist and his colleagues had traveled to central Kazakhstan, with the intention of monitoring a local herd of saigas begin calving, there had already been reports of dead animals.  The saigas are a steppe-dwelling antelope that is currently on the critically endangered list.

At first, the local veterinarians that had reported the dead animals were not initially alarmed.  During the previous years, there has been a limited amount of die-offs, so to see them was not really that unusual.

However, with this particular herd of 60,000 saigas, the death of the entire herd occurred in the short span of only four days.  While working frantically to stem the sudden die-off, those veterinarians and conservationists trying so hard to limit the affected numbers received word the same thing happening with herds all across Kazakhstan.

Image: Radio Free Europe

Then, just a quickly as it started, the phenomenon ended, as the mass dying came to a stop suddenly in the early days of June.  After some investigation, clues have been gathered that point researchers to the possible reason for the rapid death of approximately 257,000 members of the country’s herd.

The data showed that bacteria played a significant role in the demise of the herd’s members.  However, the bacteria suspected to be involved is known to be harmless microbes typically, and the fact that the toll was so high is still very much a mystery.

The widespread and far-reaching parameters of the event, along with the rapid speed at which it occurred, has researchers a little perplexed, as this has not presented or been observed in any other of the species.  Although the number of herds that exist of the saigas is minimal, the herds usually run together in the fall and spring months.

Then, in those days of late spring into the early days of summer, the herd split off, and thus begins the calving season. It was during the calving season that the unexplained die-off began.