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Modern Mysteries

Weather blamed for 200,000 antelope deaths

January 21, 2018 | Comment icon 10 comments

What could have killed so many saiga antelopes ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Seilov
Scientists may have finally determined what caused vast numbers of saiga antelopes to die back in 2015.
The mysterious mass die-off occurred in central Kazakhstan where more than 200,000 of the critically endangered antelopes were found dead within the space of only three weeks.

The exact cause of the disaster would remain a mystery for over two years, but now a new study has revealed that the most likely culprit was actually a period of unusually hot and humid weather.

For some unknown reason, this anomalous weather had caused the Pasteurella multocida type B bacteria found in the creatures' tonsils to migrate to their guts where it triggered blood poisoning.
"You went from one or two animals to, within three or four days, thousands," said study author Professor Richard Kock of The Royal Veterinary College.

"The animals were showing normal behavior, normal signs, normal grazing and then suddenly they'd start looking a little bit unhappy and stop feeding. Within about three hours they were dead."

Only around 30,000 of the animals ultimately managed to survive the disaster.

"If we get a similar event, and all the animals are within a sort of weather envelope, it could be total extinction," said Kock. "It could happen in a week."

Source: Smithsonian | Comments (10)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
I was reading about this on other sites. It's horrible....
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
Migratory routes keeps the population healthy ... ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by Noxasa 4 years ago
I don't know, I'd have to see the data. If that bacteria is naturally found in their tonsils then I'd be surprised to find it so deadly due to a slight seasonal environmental temperature increase. Species just aren't that fragile to environmental change. The whole reason why a species exists today is because they're naturally very adaptable to environmental change. A slight increase of temperature for a season doesn't seem like something that would break the biology of an evolved species. Weird theory...
Comment icon #4 Posted by Nzo 4 years ago
I am in full agreement. The only thing that I have seen on this planet that can wipe out animals in a short period of time is some kind of human creation. That could be anything from a biological/chemical/technological agent to pollution. This is why I do not believe in today's researchers. Not one iota of integrity. This would literally be laughed at in a peer review.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
That theory is also one of the theories for the mega-fauna collapse in North America along with loss of environment from catastrophic glacier flooding. If it suddenly warms up and is raining more often, the chance of bacteriaand viruses mutating and getting more virulent increases. This case doeshave the possibility of a human cause though...
Comment icon #6 Posted by Mr.United_Nations 4 years ago
Didn' this happen twice?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Sad but it it could happen for a lot of species and the specialized one are the most fragile to change in their environment.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
I watched the frog collapse here back in the 90s. Someone from Rutgers told me I didn't know what I was talking about (They don't get in the field much). Then somebig name "discovers" it in the 2000s.... For that amount to die off. Nobody was paying attention for a long time....
Comment icon #9 Posted by Still Waters 4 years ago
It's in the article I posted.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Scorpius 4 years ago
Odd. Really. We get die offs from almost a lot of different species. Sounds fishy to me as well. There have been flocks of birds that fall from the sky in certain places around the world, One thought is military testing of some sort where these specific animals are highly sensitive to. People still don't realize how many nuclear tests have been tested, so I'm going to repeat it--over two thousand worldwide. The US is responsible for over half of the tests, yet they blame North Korea for odd random ones. Now there are tests also not accounted for. Now people are still not aware of the ac... [More]

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