A new massive wave of deaths among the extremely endangered saiga antelope has been registered in northern Kazakhstan, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service said on Thursday.
The ministry said earlier that 540 saiga carcasses had been found in the Kostanai region of Kazakhstan.
“Aviation monitoring today … discovered a new concentration of saiga deaths with the approximate number of dead animals reaching beyond 400,” the ministry said.
Last year, at least 12,000 saiga died in western Kazakhstan, presumably from pasteurellosis infection and from overeating. In November 2010, Kazakhstan introduced a ban on saiga hunting.
The latest statistics put the number of saiga in Kazakhstan at 85,500. The country spends $800,000 annually to prevent the animals’ deaths.
Saiga were virtually exterminated in the 1920s but then increased their numbers in the Soviet Asian republics in the 1950s. The animals mostly became endangered because of hunting and the high demand for their horns in Chinese medicine.
Apart from Kazakhstan, saiga live in the Russian Kalmykia region and in Mongolia.