ASTANA -- Kazakh authorities say a wildlife ranger has been shot dead by poachers in the Aqmola region, the second ranger killed by poachers of the critically endangered saiga antelope this year.
Resources Minister Maghzum Myrzaghaliev told reporters in Astana on July 23 that Qanysh Nurtazinov was shot dead and that his colleague, Samat Ospanov, was wounded as they tried to stop several hunters who were firing at the antelopes.
The poachers then sped away in a car, he added.
In January, another ranger, Yerlan Nurghaliev, was severely beaten by saiga poachers in the same region after he tried to stop them. He died later in the hospital.
Nurghaliev's death sparked wide outrage in the Central Asian nation, with the Prosecutor-General’s Office taking charge of the investigation.
Three suspects were arrested days later.
The attacks on wildlife rangers highlighted the growing threats to Kazakhstan’s famed saiga, an endangered ancient species of antelope protected under Kazakh law.
Once plentiful in Central Asia, the saiga, known for their flexible noses that resemble a shortened elephant trunk, were hit hard in 2015 when about 200,000 of the animals died from a mysterious blood-related illness.
Only about 100,000 saiga, which have been hunted for centuries for their meat and horns, remain.