A veterinary laboratory has confirmed that the dieoff of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan was caused by pasteurelosis. The animal death toll stands at over 400. The first 100 corpses this year were discovered May 18.
In 2010 in Zhanybek area in Western Kazakhstan, a popular habitat of the species, about 12 000 animals died.
The total population of saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan makes up 85.5 thousand animals. Kazakhstan spends a total of $800 000 a year to sustain the saiga population.
The saiga is an antelope which originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone from the foothils of the Carpathians and Caucasus into Dzungaria and Mongolia. They also lived in North America during the Pleistocene. Today they are found only in a few areas in Kalmykia (Russia), Kazakhstan, and western Mongolia.
The saiga is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. Saigas today live in Kalmykia, three areas of Kazakhstan and in two isolated areas of Mongolia. Another small population in the Pre-Caspian region of Russia, remains under extreme threat.
Kazakhstan in November 2010 reaffirmed a ban on hunting saiga antelopes, and extended this ban until 2021, as the Central Asian nation seeks to save the endangered species.