1. Main
  2. Learn
  3. Life
  4. Environment

Foreign experts present findings on mass saiga pestilence in Kazakhstan

Saiga bodies scattered across the steppe. Photo courtesy of mgov.kz Saiga bodies scattered across the steppe. Photo courtesy of mgov.kz

Foreign experts have made preliminary conclusions on the mass saiga pestilence in the Kazakh steppes that occurred in May, Tengrinews reports citing Khabar TV Channel.

The death toll of the saiga exceeded 134,000 - over a half of the entire saiga population of Kazakhstan and one third of the global population.  In 2014, there were about 256,000 saigas living in Kazakhstan. Considering that the largest proportion of the entire population lives in Kazakhstan, the latest pestilence was a severe blow to the rare species, which is already at risk of extinction.

Only females and lambs were affected. Their corpses had swollen bellies, and there was blood in their noses and mouths. However, the infection spared the stags, who separate from the females for the calving period.

Some experts believed the deaths were caused by exhaustion and lack of fodder, since 2014 was dry, so there was no sufficient amount of grass in the region.

Pasteurellosis was named as the cause of the previous case of mass death of saiga in the region recorded in May 2012. This acute infectious zoonotic disease was determined as the cause of death of 926 saigas. that year. Therefore, some were led to conclude that this year's case was a much more severe form of the same problem. However, the group of foreign specialists led by Steffen Zuther now say otherwise.

Together with his colleagues, Zuther went on an expedition along the migration routes of the species from south to north crossing five Oblasts of Kazakhstan, collecting samples of water, soil and grass. Some of those were sent to laboratories in the UK and Germany, others were studied in domestic laboratories.

He said that according to preliminary results, the cause of death of saiga is hemorrhagic septicemia. It is an infection that involves bacteria producing many different toxins. The researchers suspect that the pathogens were spread by ticks that populate the steppes in great numbers in late April-early May.

"We are studying the case and analyzing the data. We will have most of the test results ready in the end of August or beginning of September. After that experts are going to develop a clear plan to prevent mass deaths of saiga in the coming years," said the head of the Wildlife and Hunting Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Bakytbek Duisekeyev.

By Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

 


Nobel prizewinner proposes a new city in KZ
New abnormal snowfalls expected in Kazakhstan
Huge glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
Hyperloop construction begins in Las Vegas
"Moonlight" to top Spirit Awards nominations
Oil prices fall due to investors uncertainty
New dwarf galaxy discovered around Milky Way
Kanat Islam becomes a top ten WBO boxer
World oil prices continue to rise
Kazakhstan expects warming - Kazhydromet
Merkel to seek fourth term as chancellor
Sale of Tintin drawings set to break records
US, EU stocks fall as markets focus on dollar
Pacific leaders urged to defend free trade
EU warns eight nations on budget deficit
Universiade-2017: Athletic Village is ready
Bob Dylan can't make Nobel ceremony
Messi will never leave Barca - club president
Google, Facebook take aim at 'fake' news
Aerosmith announces Europe 'farewell' tour
Putin, Trump to normalise US-Russia ties
At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey blast
6.2 quake hits western Japan
OPEC agrees shock oil output cut
Israeli ex-president and Nobel laureate Peres dies
Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
32,000 arrested in Turkey coup probe
Youth to the fore as Milan fashion week opens
Xenophobia threatening peace in eastern Germany
Four-in-10 Japanese are virgins: poll
Sweden re-militarises Baltic island of Gotland
China to launch second space laboratory: Xinhua
More than a billion stars mapped in Milky Way: ESA
Boxing: Golovkin eyes Saunders after stopping Brook
Kazakhstan shifts PM to security chief
Oil prices gain despite rising OPEC supply forecast
US to give Philippines military planes
Singapore wages war on Zika-bearing mosquitoes
Italy quake death toll nears 250
Viral photos add fuel to French burkini debate
18 dead as Italy struck by powerful quake
Japan's first lady visits Pearl Harbor
Pokemon's a no-go on Bangkok's roads
July was Earth's hottest month in modern times
Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights