Asia

Kazakhstan antelopes: Saiga deaths top 10,000 in a week

Saiga antelopes Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Saiga antelope numbers in the Eurasian steppe are down to 50,000

Saiga antelopes are dying out in Kazakhstan, with more than 10,000 dying in a week recently because of infection.

The endangered saiga population is dwindling as a result of disease and uncontrolled hunting.

The government has been trying to restore the saiga population, and the deaths are a blow to those efforts.

Classified as critically endangered, saiga antelope numbers in the Eurasian steppe are down to 50,000.

Because of the deaths, an emergency situation has been declared in the Zholoba area of the Amangeldi district in northern Kazakhstan, the BBC's Abdujalil Abdurasulov reports from Almaty.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The saigas have been called the "queen of Central Asian steppes"

Saigas are sometimes called the "queens of the Central Asian steppes", but the population is down from about one million in 1993.

A committee of scientists came to the conclusion the antelopes were dying from an infection, probably the infectious disease pasteurellosis, Kazakhstan's Interfax news agency reports.

Kazakhstan launched a programme to restore the saiga population and has tried to control the hunting of the endangered animal in the past, but the mass death of saigas has happened before, according to the country's ministry of agriculture.

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