Sunday, November 15, 2015

Catastrophic collapse of saiga population in Central Kazakhstan

In the northern summer a  catastrophic die-off  hit the largest population of the Critically Endangered saiga antelope Saiga tatarica located in central Kazakhstan. 

This virulent mysterious epizootic illness caused herd fatality of 100% once they were infected. It is estimated that more than 120,000 saiga were lost, some 40% of the species' total worldwide population of 250,000.

The deaths have been attributed to the Pasteurella bacterium an opportunistic pathogen that weakens the immune system.  It seems also likely that a number of environmental stress factors were involved that made the Saiga susceptible to the bacterium. An international team has been put together to investigate the deaths.

Source: For more information on the species see Saiga Conservation Alliance publication

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