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Battling a Virus to Save Saiga

by Christin VanZant last modified May 16, 2017 03:41 PM
Contributors: Wildlife Conservation Society
Saiga, an ancient, critically-endangered species of antelope, are facing a catastrophic plague. These animals have been dying over the last two months in alarming numbers in the Great Lakes Depression of western Mongolia. WCS scientists working at the site with Mongolian and international partners believe around 2,500 saiga have died since December 2016—25% of the total estimated population.

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The culprit: an outbreak of a livestock virus known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).  "The situation is tragic and widespread," said Dr. Amanda Fine, a veterinarian and Associate Director of the WCS Wildlife Health Program in Asia. "Along with the impact to the saiga population, this event has the potential to produce cascading catastrophic consequences on the ecosystem. For example, ibex and argali may be affected and rare snow leopards may suffer the effects of a diminished prey base."

 

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