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News ID: 4765
Publish Date: 19 February 2018 - 11:20
A mass die-off of wild antelopes in Kazakhstan was triggered by environmental factors, scientists believe.
ECO-IEST: A mass die-off of wild antelopes in Kazakhstan was triggered by environmental factors, scientists believe.

More than 200,000 saiga antelopes collapsed and died suddenly in 2015, wiping out most of the global population. The deaths were found to be caused by a bacterial infection.
However, new data shows other factors were involved too, including unusually high humidity and temperatures. Researchers think changing environmental conditions could be a trigger for the bacterial onslaught, although this needs further research.

They say there is a high chance of the same thing happening again, given climate change predictions for the region.

Study leader Prof Richard Kock of the Royal Veterinary College London was part of the original emergency response team.

He said the event went way beyond what would normally be expected from a bacterial disease of this kind.

"The whole thing was really extraordinary," he said. "It's very very likely to happen again."
The multi-disciplinary team used statistical analysis to look at environmental conditions at the time.

In May 2015, researchers in central Kazakhstan witnessed something really strange: thousands of saiga antelopes began acting a bit weird, becoming unbalanced, and then just plopping on the ground within a few hours — dead. Over the course of just three weeks, more than 200,000 saigas died, or about 60 percent of the global population.
Saiga antelopes, live in the grasslands of central Asia, from Hungary all the way across Mongolia they’ve been around for thousands of years, since the time of the mammoths. they have thick furs and unusual noses that warm up cold air before it gets to the lungs, the animals are highly adapted to extreme environments, and being able to survive harsh winters.



Source: AKI Press
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