Over 120,000 Endangered Antelopes Have Died in KazakhstanDaniel McCarthy (Author) Published Date : Jun 01, 2015 23:30 IST
Over 120,000 endangered antelopes, over a third of the worldwide saiga antelope population, have died since the middle of May in Kazakhstan. Officials said the cause of this catastrophic collapse is not clear. The United Nations backed CMS or Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species said that not even one animal amongst the affected herds survived.
The CMS said two types of bacteria helped to exacerbate the huge die off of antelope but the those two forms of bacteria are not lethal unless an animal already has an immune systems that has been weakened, which makes the underlying cause still a mystery.
A die-off amongst saigas is not unusual. The saigas are for the most part in Kazakhstan and recognized for their flexible, bulbous noses that warm up the freezing air and can filter dust. An event in 2010 killed over 12,000 and one back in 1984 killed close to 100,000. The cause of those two large die-offs was never conclusively determined.
The big die-offs take place often times during the period of birth, when the female saigas start to give birth all within the same week period. Four of the herds this spring were affected by the die-offs and were primarily mothers and their calves.
Saigas have also been hit by poaching, as the horns on the animal are used for traditional medicines in China. Poaching soared following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the population of the Saiga plunged by over 95% during the 1990s. At that time, only approximately 50,000 remained worldwide. However, since then, Kazakhstan banned the hunting of the animal and its numbers started to grow.
Officials continue to count the dead saigas from recent weeks so the final count will likely surpass the estimate of 120,000. However, the UN backed group said it appears as if the die-off has ended.
The group said the antelope often gives birth to two calves, which helps the population rebound rapidly.
Over 120,000 Endangered Antelopes Have Died in Kazakhstan