A recent study, published in the “Science Advances”, has identified several contributing factors leading to a massive die-off of Saiga antelopes. The paper identifies climate changes and factors such as increased humidity and higher air temperatures to be responsible for the invasion of an opportunistic bacteria into the bloodstream of the animals.

Scientists from several different laboratories have identifies this bacteria as Pasteurella multocida. This bacterium is known to be common flora in the saigas’ tonsils and never before have caused any problems.

Saiga antelopes are critically endangered species. Today, their natural habitat is in the Republic of Kalmykia (a region in Russia) and several areas in Kazakhstan.

Saigas form large herds that tend to graze in semi-desert areas, steppes, grasslands and sometimes woodlands.

In 2015, around 220 000 Saiga antelopes died suddenly in Kazakhstan. This new study suggests that the climate change and the humid weather conditions are to blame.

 

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