At least 120,000 of the extremely endangered saiga antelope have died since the middle of May and nobody knows why. That accounts for 1/3rd of the entire population worldwide. Their status was set at critically endangered before the die off. Now, their future is in jeopardy.
In four affected herds, there were no survivors. Some point to the Pasteurella and Clostridia bacteria as the culprit, but they are only able to kill extremely weak animals with weakened immune systems. Something else would have had to contribute to the mass deaths of these creatures. Found mostly in Kazakhstan, they have had die offs in the past but never this large.
“With international trade, microorganisms are passing through the world’s ports at an unprecedented rate,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species director. “Combined with diseases from livestock, one has to wonder if this is how the saiga got sick.”
Occurrences of unexplained mass animal deaths have been rising in recent years. Is the world out of equilibrium? Is man’s expansion and introduction of new technology to blame? Is this something Biblical? At this point, if anyone knows for certain, they’re story is not being told.
According to the LA Times:
The die-offs often take place “in the birth period, when saiga females come together in vast herds to all give birth within a peak period of less than one week,” CMS said. This spring’s deaths affected four such herds, primarily killing mothers and calves, it said.