Science

Endangered Antelope On The Verge Of Extinction

By Jose Paolo Calcetas , Feb 08, 2017 09:05 AM EST

More than 2,000 endangered Saiga antelopes have died due to a disease that can seriously threaten their whole species. The said disease is known to be caused by a virus called Peste des Petits Ruminants or PPR. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists, PPR originated as a livestock disease. The first case of PPR has been recorded last January 2, 2017.

The scientists worked in Western Mongolia’s affected grassland area. The animal’s remains were burned to avoid the possible spread of the dreaded disease. WCS veterinary scientist Dr. Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba confirmed that 2,500 Saiga had already died.

Researchers feared that the rapid spread of the disease should be taken seriously. Therefore, they said that immediate and appropriate action needs to be undertaken. Furthermore, they also added that this is the first infectious disease that affected the whole population of antelopes, and eventually species within the wider grassland ecosystem.

The BBC said that one of the group’s scientists, Dr. Shiilegdamba, warned those same animals might suffer the same fate are species with the same range as antelopes. This includes ibex and big-horned sheep. She further added that more than 1.5 million Mongolian gazelles migrated in the eastern part of Mongolia. If the disease hits the gazelle, Shiilegdamba said that this might take a toll on the country’s economy and ecology.

Even before the spread of this disease, IUCN has already reported back in 2009 that the antelope species were already in danger of extinction. Five species of antelopes were particularly pointed out as the most endangered. These include the Dama Gazelle, Aders’ Duiker, Hirola, Addax, and the Saiga Antelopes. The Scimitar Horned Oryx has already been extinct.

In 2013, nine antelopes have been selected for a study which lasted for 18 months. Each antelope has been given a distinct collar. This helped scientists who recorded the herd’s location data every three hours for twelve months. The collars were retrieved from the antelopes during the summer of 2014.

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