Unfortunately, latest reports from our colleagues in Mongolia indicate that over 1000 saigas have now died from the ongoing disease outbreak.
Tests are still being conducted, but it’s most likely an outbreak of peste-des-petits ruminants, or “sheep and goat plague”, that has spread in livestock throughout the region. We are working with governmental agencies, rangers, the Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF-Mongolia to investigate the outbreak, identify ‘hot-spots’ and stop it before it does more harm to saigas.
However, there is cause for hope. Saiga conservationists in the region were well prepared to handle this outbreak because of the emergency protocols that were developed after the tragic die-off in Kazakhstan in 2015. Additionally, vaccination of livestock can control this disease, and the Mongolian authorities are already well on the way to vaccinating the millions of livestock that live in the area.
The Mongolian government has committed some funding for public awareness and saiga protection measures, although much more is needed.
The Saiga Conservation Alliance will continue to support the Mongolian authorities to address this issue head on to end the outbreak and help get the Mongolian saiga population back in good health.