Kazakhstan Saiga Antelope suddenly die

Saiga Antelope look a little different. Their bodies are shaped like an Antelope but the head is what set them apart from other antelope.  The nose hangs over the mouth in a peculiar way. In June 2015, the Guardian published an article on the mass deaths of the Saiga Antelope in Kazakhstan. You can read the article here. They reported that over 135000 Saiga suddenly died over the space of a few days in an unexplained manner. You can see a photo story of the deaths here but I warn you the images are distressing.

According to the ICUN Red List the Saiga Antelope are critically endangered and this recent event will seriously reduce the few remaining herds left on our planet. They are found in Central Asia and South-Eastern Europe, but their habitat is fast disappearing due to growing human populations encroaching on areas of migration and hunting, according to the WWF. See here for their article. However, it seems that this has not had a part to play in these 135000 sudden deaths.

The most confusing issue with this story is that there seems to be no reason for the deaths. In little over 4 days the Saiga Antelope seemed to die where they stood. There are two possible suggestions: that a virus infected the herds and killed them quickly, or the temperature fluctuation that day was so vast that it resulted in these animals dying. The International Business Times reported in September 2015 that scientists were still no closer to finding out what the cause was.

Picture from Wikipedia

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