Authorities in Central Asian countries announced on Friday that about 350 endangered saiga antelopes had died on the grasslands of western Kazakhstan, presumably killed by lightning.
According to the World Conservation Organization (WWF), the death occurred during the birth of the saiga. endangered.
The Minister of Ecology of Kazakhstan said that the most likely cause of death was lightning, “because there are traces of lightning strikes on animal carcasses.”
The saiga antelope of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ranks among the top five endangered animal and plant species, and its “Red List” is a scientific reference for endangered animal and plant species.
Saiga antelopes are famous for their curved horns and long round noses, and they are on the brink of extinction time and again. Their origin can be traced back to the last Great Ice Age, which began 115,000 to 110,000 years ago and ended about 12,500 to 10,000 years ago.
During the Soviet era, they received increased protection, a total ban on hunting, and then introduced very strict quotas in the 1950s. At that time, the number of adults exceeded 2 million.
However, with the independence of Kazakhstan in 1991, poaching activities surged unprecedentedly, and the saiga antelopes were once again on the verge of extinction.
Today, only about 50,000 saigas roam the grasslands, 90% of which are in Kazakhstan. Their survival is most threatened by poaching because male horns are sought after in Chinese medicine.