Accessibility links

What Is Killing Off Kazakhstan's Rare Antelope?

Herds of one of Central Asia's most iconic animals, Kazakhstan's saiga antelope, are dwindling rapidly and no one seems to know why. ​The Kazakh Department for Emergency Situations says more than 19,000 saiga carcasses have now been buried in the country's Qostanai region, though unofficial reports on May 20 suggested the number of dead animals may already exceed 30,000.

The Saiga Conservation Alliance puts the total number of individual animals in Central Asia at around 260,000, including 200,000 in west-central Kazakhstan, the largest population.

The 30,000 figure already represents the biggest die-off of the species in recent memory.

Read more about the current plight of the saiga here.

A dead saiga mother and her calf in the Qostanai region of Kazakhstan on May 20, 2015
2

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.
3

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.
4

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.
5

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.
6

Men load a trailer with the carcasses of dead saiga in May 2010.

Saiga outside Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2010
7

Saiga outside Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2010

8
9
XS
SM
MD
LG