It started in late May. When geoecologist Steffen Zuther and his colleagues arrived in central Kazakhstan to monitor the calving of one herd of saigas, a critically endangered, steppe-dwelling antelope, veterinarians in the area had already reported dead animals on the ground.
“But since there happened to be die-offs of limited extent during the last years, at first we were not really alarmed,” Zuther, the international coordinator of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, told Live Science.
But within four days, the entire herd — 60,000 saiga — had died. As veterinarians and conservationists tried to stem the die-off, they also got word of similar population crashes in other herds across Kazakhstan. By early June, the mass dying was over.
Now, the researchers have found clues as to how more than half of the country’s herd, counted at 257,000 as of 2014, died so rapidly. Bacteria clearly played a role in the saigas’ demise. But exactly how these normally harmless microbes could take such a toll is still a mystery, Zuther said.
“The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species,” Zuther said. “It’s really unheard of.”
Read more: NBC News
- CNN Made to Report Trump’s ‘Wiretap’ Accusations May Have Been True
- Watch: Al Sharpton’s Epic Fails When Reading Teleprompter Will Have You Rolling With Laughter, ‘The Thigh (Thai) Militarty’
- Bill O’Reilly Breaks His Silence: His Firing was a ‘Political and Financial Hit Job’ [Video]
- College Pays Professors Huge Settlement After ‘Ban of White People’ on Campus Threatened Their Lives [Video]
- Chelsea Handler: ‘Black White Supremacy’ is a Real Thing
- White Chick Claims Police Arresting Looters is ‘White Supremacy’
- MSNBC Host Claims Antifa is ‘on the Side of Angels’
- ROAD RAGE: This Guy Wants Everyone to Know What he Thinks of Obama and It’s Awesome [PHOTO]
- Defense Secretary James Mattis is Ready to Shoot Down North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles
- Here is How Miami Police are Handling the Hurricane Irma Looters…
- Crocodile ‘Whisperer’ Claimed the Creatures Wouldn’t Harm Him, Then He Went for a Swim
- Woman Arrested after Trying to Flush Newborn Baby Down the Toilet
- Her Orders were to Take Down Flight 93 on 9/11, But Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney Was Flying an Unarmed F-16
- PERV ALERT: Group of Brooklyn Teens Grope Several Women
- The Lawyers Whom Allegedly Deleted Hillary’s E-mails are About to be…
- Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff Reveals Michelle Was the Real Boss and if She Got Mad, Oh Boy…
- ALERT: Wasserman Schultz’ ex-IT Aide Now Faces 4-count Indictment
- Kim Jong-un Needs to be Terrified of Sec Def Mattis’ First Course of Action After NK Recent Missile Launch