Sánchez-Monge, F.; Kock, R.A.

Pathological findings in the mass mortality event of saiga antelope, May 2015

Field-pathological findings of 33 saiga antelope carcasses (adults and new-born) found in two sites (Tengiz and Turgai, Kazakhstan) during a mass die-off event in May 2015.

In Kazakhstan May 2015, approximately 200,000 saiga antelopes died within a month-period causing a loss of two-thirds of the global population. The dramatic event occurred during calving season when females and young males stop migrating and form massive aggregations for calving purposes. With 100% morbidity and 100% mortality of affected herds observed, the 2015 die-off left the largest saiga population, Betpak-Dala, with approximately 30,000 survivors based on post mortality census, highlighting the imminent extinction threats to this critically endangered species.

The lack of pathological investigations during historical mass mortality events has limited our understanding of disease-related mortalities in saiga antelope. Generally, aetiological agents were isolated from dead saiga, but the disease course and a full necropsy were not performed nor present in the records. However, for the first time, a full pathology report was possible during 2015.

Publication date: 2018-09-10

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This dataset is made available under the terms of the Open Government Licence

Format of the dataset : Semi-colon delimited text file

You must cite: Sánchez-Monge, F.; Kock, R.A. (2018). Pathological findings in the mass mortality event of saiga antelope, May 2015. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/30cbfba7-f9a1-47d5-abdb-f2741041e487


This dataset is part of the following


Study area
Temporal extent
2015-05-01    to    2015-05-31

Supplemental information

Other useful information regarding this dataset:

Saigas on the brink: Multidisciplinary analysis of the factors influencing mass mortality events by Kock et al., 2018. Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao2314

Provenance & quality

Sixteen saiga carcasses were necropsied in Tengiz Oblast (thirteen adults and three new-borns), and eighteen carcasses in Turgai Oblast (twelve adults and six new-borns). Field necropsy procedures were followed according to: Munson, L., Necropsy of Wild Animals. University of California. 2006.

Samples were fixed in formal saline and shipped and processed at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UK. Samples from Turgai were processed at RVC and from Tengiz were processed initially at the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems (RIBSP), Kazakhstan and re-processed at the RVC. Sample and slide preparation at the RVC is described in Martineau, H.M. Histopathology of Tissues from Saiga Antelope: Turgai. Pathology and Pathogen Biology Department, Royal Veterinary College of London, UK.

Samples were analysed at the RVC and then sent to the Forest School of Medicine, NC, USA for review.

Correspondence/contact details

Fiorella Sánchez-Monge
c/o Royal Veterinary College of London


Kock, R.A.
Royal Veterinary College of London

Other contacts

Environmental Information Data Centre
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre


Spatial representation type
Tabular (text)
Spatial reference system
WGS 84


Topic categories
Kazakhstan Saiga antelope,  Saiga tatarica Tengiz