Friday, August 26, 2016


Kazakhstan

Saiga Antelope Death Toll In Kazakhstan Reaches 85,000

  • The saiga, with its distinctive bulging eyes, tubular snout, and spiraled horn, is as distinctive as it is endangered.
  • A dead saiga mother and her calf in the Qostanai region of Kazakhstan on May 20, 2015
  • A saiga mother and her calf graze next to the carcasses of hundreds of dead antelopes in the northern Qostanai region of Kazazkhstan on May 20, 2015.
  • A tractor transports the carcasses of dead saiga in a field in the Qostanai region of northern Kazakhstan on May 20, 2015.
  • Men load a trailer with the carcasses of dead saiga during a previous die-off in May 2010 in a field some 600 kilometers southwest of Uralsk, Kazakhstan.
  • Men load a trailer with the carcasses of dead saiga in May 2010.
  • Saiga outside Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2010
PHOTO GALLERY: What Is Killing Off Kazakhstan's Rare Antelope?
By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ASTANA -- The death toll in a mysterious mass deaths of critically endangered saiga antelopes has risen sharply to 85,000, according to authorities in Kazakhstan who are still unsure of the cause. 

The Central Asian nation's Agriculture Ministry said on May 22 that the die-off was occurring in three northern regions. 

The cause of death is unclear, but authorities suspect the culprit is a bacterial infection carried in the mouth and breathing passage known as pasteurellosis.

Kazakhstan is the primary habitat for the saiga, easily recognizable with its distinctive big, bulging eyes, tubular snout, and spiraled horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Its numbers, once in the millions, were severely depleted after the breakup of the Soviet Union by hunters and poachers eager to bag the odd-looking steppe dweller for trophy, meat, or the sale of its horns.

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