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In an interview with Kazakhstan's media a hunter from West Kazakhstan region declared that the official version of pasteurellosis is unlikely, while there is an obvious poisoning of saiga. During visual examination of dead animals, sanitary doctors discovered a swollen belly, and on the faces of the animals -- green-coloured foam. The reason, according to Rangers, could have been poisonous chemicals, scattered from helicopters over the fields.
People of Zhanibek district of West Kazakhstan region, who first discovered the cases in animals, are confident that the real reason is the Russian missile military training ground "Kapustin Yar", which is located nearby. Villagers told that the local steppe was strewn with white powder, and just before the death of the animals a black gray cloud appeared in the air, although the weather was clear and cloudless. At the same time people felt, during these days, sharply deteriorated [acutely ill?] and villagers were seeking for medical help.
We have further noted from reliable sources as follows. The Western Kazakhstan lab diagnosed _Pasteurella_ and ruled out both FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) and PPR (peste des petits ruminants). The National Monitoring Centre and Reference lab for diagnosis and veterinary medicine in Astana, Kazakhstan is pursuing tests of samples but no definitive infectious agent has yet been isolated.
Interestingly, mass mortality of saigas in 1988 that was attributed
to pasteurellosis was, reportedly, thought by some senior scientists
at the Kazakh Veterinary Science Research Institute (KazNIVI) to have
been caused by something the saigas encountered when grazing close to
a military base. The whole area was closed off after the saigas died,
and senior officials from Moscow were flown in to take part in the
investigation. Scientists at KazNIVI felt the incident was 'hushed up'
and too quickly attributed to pasteurellosis (see page 17 in: Monica
Lundervold: Infectious diseases of saiga antelopes and domestic
livestock in Kazakhstan. Thesis, University of Warwick, UK June 2001.
Poachers, or illegal hunters, kill them for their horns, which are used in medicine. A million of these antelopes lived on the earth just 15 years ago, but only a few thousand survive today.
Antelopes have become a major cause of worry for farmers in Bihar who are on a strict vigil round the clock these days to protect their crops from being affected in Bihar’s Paliganj area.
Farmers are in a state of abject panic and are disappointed at the inaction of the government and keep a vigil. The hardest part of all this is to stay put entire night in the open when mercury plummets
“Government is not helping us at all. They say that animal slaughter is an offence but are we left with any choice?” said Om Prakash, a farmer, Paliganj.
Saiga population sizes are strongly affected by climatic variability and disease (Bekenov et al., 1998), although these are unlikely to be major causes of the declines
Five atmospheric nuclear tests of small power (10-40 kt) were performed over the site in 1957-1961 . With the further growth and development, the site became a cosmodrome, serving in this function since 1966 (with interruption in 1988-1998). The town of Znamensk was established to support the scientists working on the facilities, their families, and supporting personnel. Initially this was a secret city, not to be found on maps and inaccessible to outsiders.
Kapustin Yar is also the site of numerous Soviet-era UFO sightings and has been called "Russia's Roswell"
At least 12,000 critically endangered saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica) have been found dead in Kazakhstan in the past two weeks, victims of a mysterious epidemic. The deaths represent about 15 percent of the species' worldwide population.
So what caused the outbreak? According to tests by the Kazakh government, the antelopes died of pasteurellosis, an infection that afflicts the lungs. According to a release by the IUCN, "Pasteurellosis is caused by a bacterium that lives naturally in healthy individuals, but can cause acute illness and rapid death if the animal's immune system is compromised, either by another infection, poisoning, stress or malnutrition."
Olga Pereladova, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Central Asia Program, told the Daily Telegraph that the animals might have been malnourished following an unusually cold winter and by an overly hot spring, which may have contributed to the spread of the disease.
Serik Imanukulov, a Kazakh official who heads the department of sanitary and epidemiology in the area, told the AFP news service that the infection may have now passed, and predicts that no more deaths will occur. "We can say the outbreak of the infection has passed and come to a close," Imanukulov said. "I do not think there will be new cases of mass deaths among the saiga at present."
A spokesperson for the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry told the Telegraph that the dead saiga are being burned to prevent further spread of the disease.