The Kazakh Agriculture Ministry says at least 400 more rare saiga antelopes have been found dead in the northern Qostanai region, bringing to nearly 1,000 the number found dead in the area in the past week.
The deaths remain a mystery
, although some ecologists have argued that there's a link between the animals' fates and space landings in the area that might have left chemical toxins behind.
On May 22, officials said at least 543 dead saigas, mainly females, were found -- including, officials say, about 120 near the village of Sorsha.
It's the same area where a Russian spacecraft carrying a Russian-American crew from the International Space Station (ISS) landed in April.
No link between the spacecraft and the deaths of the saigas has been scientifically established.
The saiga is a critically endangered species, with most surviving only in Kazakhstan and Russia’s Kalmykia Republic.
Some estimates say there are only around 50,000 extant saigas, after years of unrestricted hunting since the Soviet collapse.
Based on reporting by KazInform, RFE/RL, and Interfax