JAN 17, 2018 8:28 PM PST

Researchers One Step Closer to Solving 2015 Saiga Antelope Die-Off Mystery

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Back in 2015, a population of roughly 200,000 saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica) dropped dead in Kazakhstan for seemingly no good reason. After experts arrived at the scene to probe the situation, they cited a bacterial infection as the cause.

Saiga antelopes are a critically-endangered species, and they're threatened with a new problem.

Image Credit: Victor Tyakht/Shutterstock

Hemorrhagic septicemia purportedly killed the entire bunch, and while it seemed like a cut and answer at the time, a new study published in the journal Science Advances this week underscores how there could have been other factors involved.

Related: Lightning strike reportedly kills more than 300 reindeer in Norway

A bacterium dubbed Pasteurella multocida causes this health condition that killed so many saiga antelopes, and it typically lies dormant inside their bodies. Citing the paper, however, Kazakhstan experienced an abnormally hot and humid Summer in 2015.

The study is one of the first to link environmental conditions to the bacterial infection that killed so many saiga antelopes that year, and it raises red flags. If a connection exists, then experts want to know about it; for now, their best guess is that the increased heat and stress on the antelopes’ bodies may have triggered and exacerbated the infection.

Given that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes the saiga antelope as a critically-endangered species, conservationists hope to solve the mystery sooner rather than later. Understanding the problem from every angle may help us prevent additional outbreaks and boost the species’ population numbers.

Sadly, the 2015 mass-die off wasn’t the first and almost certainly won’t be the last; especially not with environmental issues like climate change threatening to warm the Earth up even further. Too many more of these mishaps threaten to wipe the species out entirely, and animal experts plan to do everything in their power to prevent that from happening.

Related: Dozens of stranded whales die on an Indian beach

It ought to be interesting to see whether the researchers can validate their theory and prevent future outbreaks. After all, the saiga antelope depends on it.

Source: Science Alert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 02, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 02, 2019
Do Tortoises Enjoy Being Touched by People?
Tortoises are one of nature’s most conspicuous animals – large reptiles that carry massive shells that protect their sluggish bodies from damag...
DEC 17, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2019
Watch Seals Band Together to Scare a Great White Shark Away
Great white sharks are rather renowned for being massive and merciless predators of the ocean, and among their favorite prey are fur seals, which are rich...
FEB 02, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 02, 2020
Land use in the tropics: what we could do better
Research published recently in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution reports that our collective misuse of tropical lands is negatively impacting the...
FEB 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 16, 2020
These Jellyfish Deliver Stings Without Touching You
Most people are accustomed to thinking that if you avoid a jellyfish’s tentacles while swimming in the ocean, then you won’t be stung. For the...
FEB 17, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 17, 2020
How a Spider Builds its Web
Just about everyone has seen a spider web at some point in their life, but have you ever wondered how a spider builds such a strong and perfect web? The pr...
FEB 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 25, 2020
These Ants Do Whatever it Takes to Survive
Symbiotic relationships between different organisms in the wild are a wonderful thing. They exist in just about every ecosystem around the globe, including...
Loading Comments...