Science

Mystery deepens over mass die-off of antelopes

A mass die-off of wild antelopes in Kazakhstan was triggered by environmental factors, scientists believe.

More than 200,000 saiga antelopes collapsed and died suddenly in 2015, wiping out most of the global population.

The deaths were found to be caused by a bacterial infection.

However, new data shows other factors were involved too, including unusually high humidity and temperatures.

Researchers think changing environmental conditions could be a trigger for the bacterial onslaught, although this needs further research.

They say there is a high chance of the same thing happening again, given climate change predictions for the region.

Study leader Prof Richard Kock of the Royal Veterinary College London was part of the original emergency response team.

He said the event went way beyond what would normally be expected from a bacterial disease of this kind.

"The whole thing was really extraordinary," he said. "It's very very likely to happen again."

The multi-disciplinary team used statistical analysis to look at environmental conditions at the time.

They found that there were unusually warm temperatures and high humidity in the days leading up to the wildlife deaths.

The same was found for two previous mass die-offs of antelopes in 1981 and 1988 in central Asia.

The mechanisms by which climate factors triggered this bacterial attack remain unknown, and require future research, they say.

A link with climate had been noted before, but, "this is the first concrete evidence", said Prof Kock.

There is an urgent need for mitigation of other risks to the critically-endangered animal, such as poaching and the spread of diseases from livestock, he added.

"There's theoretically a possibility of extinction of the species entirely," he said. "We have at least got a number of populations – albeit small ones – that are outside the danger zone."

Other wildlife, such as reindeer, could also be susceptible to mass die-offs, scientists believe.

The antelopes all died within days of each other over a large area of central Kazakhstan.

It later emerged that the most likely cause was blood poisoning from a bacterium found naturally in saiga antelopes, which is usually harmless.

Co-researcher Steffen Zuther of the Frankfurt Zoological Society/Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan said mass mortality events are a major threat for the saiga antelope and can wipe out many years of conservation work in a few days.

"The triggering of such mass mortality events in saiga through weather conditions shows that not much can be done to prevent them occurring, and therefore how important it is to maintain saiga populations of sufficient size for the species to survive such catastrophes," he explained.

"The event was simply catastrophic for the long-term survival of this critically endangered species," said Nida Al Fulaij of the wildlife charity, PTES, which funded some of the rescue work.

The saiga antelope lives on the grasslands of Central Asia in large herds of up to a thousand individuals.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the animal is at risk from illegal hunting for horns used in Chinese traditional medicine, as well as from habitat loss and grassland fires.

The research is published in the journal, Science Advances.

Follow Helen on Twitter.

Original Article

BBC

Related Articles

5 Comments

  1. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and
    say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still
    new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

  2. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your site,
    how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a appropriate deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant
    clear idea

  3. Hey are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need
    any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I
    guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.

    Do you have any helpful hints for beginner blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  5. Developing an XML Sitemap Index is a fantastic means to attract online search engine
    web traffic as well as enhance your position. The sitemap is
    comprised of multiple URLs that each consist of unique content.
    For finest results, the XML sitemap ought to be structured as a tree.
    Pages that contain replicate content will certainly be overlooked by online search engine.
    For additional information, see a sample XML Sitemap. It includes only a single link.

    XML Sitemap Index data have certain formatting regulations.
    Utilizing this method, the XML Sitemap Index will be visible
    on search engines.

    XML Sitemaps are free-and-easy to develop. All that is needed is a text documents, which should have a name, a title, and also a summary.
    It needs to have no headers or footers and have to remain in UTF-8 encoding.
    It must be a solitary page and must remain in the root directory of your web site.
    It is likewise crucial to keep in mind that all Links in an XML Sitemap
    ought to be from the very same host.

    You can easily create XML Sitemap Index data. To add an XML Sitemap to your site, go to
    the Google Search Console as well as include a link to
    your sitemap. After that, inspect the number of Links indexed by Google.

    If there is a huge void in between submitted as well as indexed numbers,
    your sitemap might have an error. You might need to add more links to
    your sitemap to obtain it indexed.

    A sitemap needs to have a checklist of Links. There must be no duplicate
    Links in an XML Sitemap. The XML Sitemap Index should consist of the URLs of all mapped URLs.

    Utilizing the XML Sitemap Index, you should have more than one sitemap.
    You can also make use of a complimentary XML sitemap generator to create a
    sitemap.

    The XML Sitemap Index need to be a data listing
    all of the Links on your site. It must not have even more than 50MB.

    It can be pressed to stay clear of high data size.
    The XML Sitemap Index ought to adhere to the very same XML criterion as the matching websites.
    The XML Sitemap index need to be identified with a/ sitemapindex
    > expansion. A noindex attribute is a tag that defines
    whether a link needs to appear in a search.

    To add an XML Sitemap to your internet site, go to the Google
    Look Console as well as include a Link to your sitemap.
    The XML Sitemap Index should include the Links of all mapped Links.
    Making Use Of the XML Sitemap Index, you should have even more than one sitemap.
    You can likewise make use of a free XML sitemap generator to generate a sitemap.

    The XML Sitemap Index need to adhere to the very same XML requirement as the corresponding websites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button