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
- Her Orders were to Take Down Flight 93 on 9/11, But Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney Was Flying an Unarmed F-16
- WATCH: Bernie Sanders FREAKS When His Gun Policy is Exposed by Chuck Todd
- Vegas Police Arrest Student Issuing School Death Threats On Instagram — Unlike Broward County
- Seattle Seahawks Player Claims Cops ‘Racially Profiled’ Him — Cops Respond With All the Details He Omitted
- Trump’s Sexual Harassment Accusers Sit Down With Megyn Kelly
- WATCH: Body-Cam Footage Released of Police Hunting Down Las Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock
- #WarriorChick: Man Gropes Woman and Says She “Likes it” Because She is “American” — Her Response Left Him Bruised and Beaten
- WATCH: Liberal Politician Wants to Make it Illegal to Manufacture Semi-Automatic Rifles, ‘Get Them Out Of Our Communities’
- Victory: Democrats Give in to GOP, Abandon the “Schumer Shutdown”
- FLASHBACK: When Trump Said McCain Was NOT a War Hero–He Was RIGHT
- When Scopes are a Bad Idea?
- UN Military Vehicles Roaming This American State–Is Obama Fulfilling His Promise of a Global Police Force?
- WATCH: Chick Accuses Cop of Racism, Then the Body Camera Footage is Released
- PRINCESS OR QUEEN: THE 11 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DATING A GIRL VS A WOMAN