The “Mysterious” mid-May 2015 Kazakhstan Saiga Antelope Die-Off – aka “Do Not Mention Radioactive Fallout…”

Blog Soundtrack: Here comes the rain again… – Eurythmics

“The saiga antelope has roamed the earth since before the Ice Age, but now a sudden and mysterious outbreak of disease threatens the saiga’s existence.  In just two and a half weeks between May 10 and May 27, an estimated 120,000 deaths occurred, wiping out more than 35% of the world’s population, and the death toll continues to rise. As of now, the cause of deaths is unclear, but researchers have jumped into action and clearer answers are expected within the next few weeks.”

– As reported on June 3, 2015 by the Saiga Conservation Alliance, in anURGENT APPEAL FOR FUNDS’

Meanwhile that number has gone up to well over 50%…

Image Source: https://allegedlyapparent.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/bc68f-saiga_tatarica.jpg

Saiga Antelope… What a special creature…   – Image Source: https://allegedlyapparent.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/bc68f-saiga_tatarica.jpg

Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA, June 2015.

DISCLAIMER and Please share the link but don’t copy-paste the content. Tx.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/puwO9-3IU

As a matter of principle, I do not claim to know.  I surely get convinced sometimes, sometimes to my later embarrassment, but in this case I’m not at that later point just yet.   I suspect radioactive fallout was a factor.   The silence on this matter, from experts and media alike, is deafening.  It would be really nice to be wrong… :-/

I understand if you are an expert in some fine scientific field, though, that I may come across as some ignorant laptop-wielding tent dweller from a crazy-making rugged remote mountainous region of a politically backwards country.  I get that.  No problem.  But… I have brought up some observations that réally ought be investigated AS IF long-term planetary quality of life depended on it.   And yes, all that is ‘just a viewpoint’.

No, this is not the end of the world, but yes, this is extremely serious.

That being said,… I have NO IDEA if the die-off of ANY species (Northern Pacific Ocean or elsewhere) can be directly linked to ongoing releases of radioactive gasses and particles from Fukushima-Daiichi (F1), Chernobyl Forest Fires or other sources of synthetic nuclear pollution.   I don’t know.  But I certainly do not rule it out just yet.  And I am honestly concerned, however, that, for starters, that possible if not likely factor is being downplayed (intentionally, actively, covertly, disgustingly) by a well-oiled machine of perception management PR professionals…

In this blog post I will simply look at, seek background and context, and wonder about the unprecedented Saiga Antelope die-off in Kazakhstan, which suddenly began on May 10, 2015.   I learned a lot about this interesting animal while researching… And I’m sure there will always be more to learn about it.    Beautiful strange looking fragile creature… Worth protecting.  Worth shutting down the nuclear industry for, if that’s what it takes…

  • The Betpak-Dala region of Kazakhstan:

If you go to Wikipedia (June 13), it sounds like the mystery has already all been figured out: “An epizootic of pasteurellosis occurred in Betpak-Dala in May of 2015, in which more than 120,000 saiga antelope were confirmed dead” wiping out more than 35% of the world’s population   It lists as a source a UN document, by its organization UNEP (“United Nations Environmental Programme“) @ SOURCE: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26816&ArticleID=35061&l=en  which, includes exactly what I was looking for: a map of the Betpak-Dala region of Kazakhstan with the Saiga habitat areas marked on it:   The herds of the Betpak-Dala are now dead… :-(

http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26816&ArticleID=35061&l=en

http://http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26816&ArticleID=35061&l=en

Anyhow…That UNEP document includes this:

“[…] According to information received from the members of the CMS expert mission, it is becoming clear that two secondary opportunistic pathogens, specifically Pasteurella and Clostridia, are contributing to the rapid and wide-spread die-off. However, the hunt for the fundamental drivers of the mass mortality continues since these bacteria are only lethal to an animal if its immune system is already weakened […]

“Experts are working around the clock to investigate the impacts in terms of wildlife health of the relatively high rainfall observed this spring, the composition of the vegetation and other potential trigger factors including a suite of viruses. None of the data analyzed to date indicates that rocket fuel is related to the mass die-off. Fresh laboratory results are becoming available every day,” says Aline Kühl-Stenzel, Terrestrial Species Officer at the UNEP/CMS Secretariat, who has been supporting the expert mission remotely from the Convention’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany. […]”

That was dated, May 28, 2015.  And in other words: the actual cause that triggered this is still unknown and that Wikipedia entry is thus essentially misleading as-is or at least as-was at that time.  [Who made that Wikipedia entry? …]

A few days later, the prestigious scientific establishment magazine, Nature (June 1, 2015), reported with appropriate great concern: “Mysterious die-off sparks race to save saiga antelope”, by Henry Nicholls:

Half of world population of the endangered saiga dies in weeks — and nobody is sure why.  […]   Saigas are known to be prone to massive, as yet unexplained die-offs. These usually occur when the females come together to calve in the spring.

In 1984, such an event in the Ural Mountains resulted in the loss of 100,000 animals — 67% of the local population. […]

[…]  “We managed to do full necropsies on 50 saiga,” says Kock, who returned from Kazakhstan on May 28.  The cause is unlikely to have been an infectious agent that was transmitted from one animal to the next. “Epidemiologically, you cannot get a directly transmitted disease to kill a whole population in seven days,” says Kock. “I’d say it’s a polymicrobial disease,” he says. This involves pathogens such as pasteurella and clostridia that are often present in the body but have seized an opportunity to run riot.   The pathogens may have been responsible for the deaths, but something must have caused the saigas to fall victim to them.  Given that two discrete sub-populations some 300 kilometres apart suffered similarly and simultaneously, it seems likely that an environmental factor is part of the story. […]”

Something… something…  An entire eleven days later, the British weekly,  The Guardian (UK) ran an article on the Saiga Antelope die-off, with the latest, written by the same author…  June 12, 2015:  

134,000 saiga antelope dead in two weeks. What is the probable cause?, yet this new article, written an entire month after the die-off began, did not include a list of all the possibilities that had been eliminated by specific findings, nor anything else unusual…   Unless you’re asleep at the media wheel, it’s a bit of an odd of “update”, if I may say so, as it includes references that seem aimed at making it appear what happened was ‘probably natural’…:

An excerpt:

Last month I wrote a short piece for Nature on the alarming and as-yet unexplained mass mortality of saiga antelope in Kazakhstan in May. I spoke at length to E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at Imperial College London and chair of Saiga Conservation Alliance.  Last week, the charity launched an appeal to raise urgent funds in support of their efforts. Here is an edited transcript of the interview.

Henry Nicholls: What is the latest news from Kazakhstan?
E.J. Milner-Gulland: More than 134,000 saigas died
in the space of just two weeks in May. This is about half of the global population.

But, as you see next, this time the inquiry is presented with a context sketched that gives the impression (at least to me) that it’s probably some unknown natural cause…  That what I get from this [my emphasis]:

hoofedMammal

…IN HOOFED MAMMALS…

“[…]  EJM-G: It’s unusual to have something this big, but mass mortality is not uncommon in ungulates.  The Mongolian gazelle had a mass die-off in the 1980s, for instance. It happens in wildebeest and white-tailed deer.  The saiga population suffered several unexplained mass mortality events in the 1980s. It might have something to do with the calving aggregation. The saiga come together in the spring in vast numbers to give birth and the animals seem to be particularly vulnerable at this time.” “There have been similar die-offs each year since 2010, but we do not have a satisfactory explanation for what is going on. […]

[…] Kazakh scientists, with support from the international community, have performed autopsies of 50 animals and the data are being analyzed now. […]”

That was already the case over 2 weeks ago too, when “Fresh laboratory results” were “becoming available every day”…  Whatever they’re doing in those labs, where “the data are [still] being analyzed”...  I’m not sure where the cut-off is time-wise before that sounds like just a media sound-bite without substance…

Okay, so let’s investigate* these claims reported by the Guardian:

  • The Mongolian gazelle had a mass die-off in the 1980s
  • The saiga population suffered several unexplained mass mortality events in the 1980s.
  • similar die-offs each year since 2010

* Armchair investigation: Just using internet search engines over coffee.

On a side-note.:  The Guardian… I won’t delve into what I think about them trying to link absolutely EVERYTHING to “catastrophic man-made climate change”, nor will I add to my own opinion about climate change, here, but I find it worth mentioning that it wouldn’t be the first time this borderline-tabloid-esque publication failed to expose the nuclear industry…    Many awards won aside, they really ruined their reputation by giving air time to known nuke-pusher and climate alarmist extraordinaire George Monbiot’s psycho-rambles.    Just saying…  

I’ll return to a related side-exploration further down.

– “The Mongolian gazelle had a mass die-off in the 1980s”

  • MongolianGazelle_iccs1997_detail_diseaseKilledByYearI found a scientific paper from 1997, “The status and management of the Mongolian gazelle Procapra gutturosa population“, by Badamjavin Lhagvasuren and E. J. Milner-Gulland, which included  these 1980s ‘killed by disease’ data for the Mongolian Gazelle:

@ http://www.iccs.org.uk/wp-content/papers/Lhagvasuren1997Oryx.pdf

Though the same can be said for 1981-1982, I find it noteworthy that in the 2 years after Chernobyl (1987 & 1988), there is no data available for ‘disease-killed’.

@ http://www.iccs.org.uk/wp-content/papers/Milner-Gulland1998JApplEcol.pdf

which leaves me with the impression that hunting, shrinking of its habitat (due to industrialization, roads, fencing, etc.) and climate (harsh winters or droughts) had much more of a negative effect on this animals’ total population than any kind of die-off due to a disease.

Though 40,000 animals dying due to disease (1983) is extreme, for sure, as a percentage of the population, at that time that constituted about 1.14 % to 1.6 % of the population (depending on going by the low estimate of 2.5 million total Mongolian gazelle population, or the high end of 3.5 million; data shown in the above graphs).  And thát leaves me with the impression that the comparison of a mysterious regional 100% mortality event, that wipes out > 50% of the the total Saiga Antelope population, to die-offs that killed < 2% of a total population, as somewhat belittling the recent die-off.  They’re both major mass-die-offs, for sure, but this one is clearly of a whole other magnitude, something you only discover when you dig for the data on that.

(By the way: For comparison to “human die-off events”:  The Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, killed 50 to 100 million people.  That was about 3 to 5 % of the world’s population at that time.   Even Ebola “only” kills between 25 and 90 percent of those infected.  Hasn’t even made a dent in total world population levels…)

So why UNEP-associated experts or the media outlets (that apparently fail to question experts…) bring up past events that aren’t really comparable (except to give the impression, that it’s probably natural), is a “mystery” too, I suppose…

– The saiga population suffered several unexplained mass mortality events in the 1980s.

They seemed to mainly have suffered the consequences of massive poaching in the 1980’s USSR and Post-USSR semi-lawless 1990’s …

An excerpt from http://saiga-conservation.com/why_protect.html shows the dramatic decline of the Saiga Antelope Population from 1980 to 2007:

Note (in purple in the graph above), the Saiga Antelope population in the Ural (KZ,RU) nose-dived in 1984.   That must be the “67% of the local population” mass die-off referred to in Nature (June 1, 2015).   That decline was also observed in the Betpak-dala herd, with over 100,000 animals lost there.  That is indeed a massive ‘die-off’… However… maybe “die-off” is not really he right term here…  About 40,000 of those, at least in Betpak-dala, was due to legal hunting (See before-mentioned, @  http://www.iccs.org.uk/wp-content/papers/Milner-Gulland1998JApplEcol.pdf), and the majority was believed to be due to poaching… How much was due to disease isn’t clear to me, but bringing up a massive population decline, pitched as a “mass die-off”, without mentioning that poaching was a major factor in that decline…   I don’t know…  Something’s not quite sitting right with how the media has spun these die-offs…

But I did find some examples of other a significant ánd actually similar-looking die-offs, which did also happen in spring:

  • The Telegraph, May 28, 2010, mentions, “…an outbreak of pasteurellosis, a disease affecting the lungs…” taking out 15% of the population. “[…] Pereladova said an extremely cold winter, followed by an unusually hot spring, were likely to have contributed to the outbreak of disease this month.   She said more than half of the saiga living in the Ural region had died. […]”

Excerpt screenshot:

Clearly, it happens.

Odd, though…   2010… Makes me wonder if something happened we never even learned about…  I had a quick glance at some radiation data, including my 4-part series of long-term radiation data sets (which I put together for the very purpose of spotting long-term patterns) and… maybe it’s nothing, but one of the four showed a rather striking data gap pattern in both springs…:  North-Eastern Iceland, which is interesting for its monitoring data because the clean air makes abnormalities stand out better… IF abnormalities would actually be shown, I suppose…

Iceland, spring 2010:

Iceland, Spring 2015:

That aside… to be filed away as, “Hmm…”

The next graph, sourced from the Large Herbivore Network (@ http://www.lhnet.org/saiga-antelope/ ) shows the effectiveness of conservation efforts: an impressive population rebound from 2003 to 2010:

They suffer die-offs, alright…  but never 100% mortality in any region at any point in the known past.  As the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) noted,

“Mass mortality events are not unusual for saiga antelopes, with a case occurring as recently as 2010 with 12,000 dead animals. However, the scale of the current event is unprecedented relative to the total population size.”

Now, in the above data graph, the total Saiga Antelope population of the Betpak-Dala region (yellow triangles) of Kazakhstan is shown here to have reached somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000…

Another “Hmm…”:

– “Similar die-offs each year since 2010.”

So… if the Saiga antelope population of the Betpak-Dala region of Kazakhstan was less than 60,000 animals in 2010…   And the pre-May-2015-die-off population of this Saiga region was said to be…  around 250,000 pre-die-off.    Hmm…

How does one get from ‘60,000’ to ‘250,000’ in four years when having “similar die-offs each year since 2010″ ???  

To me, the little bit of data I found strongly suggests the Saiga population recovery continued well after 2010.   So the allegation of “similar” die-offs after 2010 sounds like a gross exaggeration of the die-offs that may have occurred in the past 4 years.

Sorry, UNEP…

Your PR machine is not passing the mark.

Mass mortality is indeed clearly not uncommon in some types of ungulates, but a 100% mortality die-off has no precedent in the wild.   Not even close.   So… my tentative conclusion about all these statements that try to portray the May 2015 die-off as somehow quite ‘similar’ to die-offs in the previous decades is simple this:  Hogwash!

 Moving along…

What’s left to look at?  The key issue, right?  As suggested in,

“…these bacteria are only lethal to an animal

if its immune system is already weakened.

So…

What weakened the Saiga antelope’s immune system?

Two factors I want to look at:

  • The weather (or ‘climate change‘ if you want to sound more dramatic. ..) could have severely weakened the herd, a la “…an extremely cold winter, followed by an unusually hot spring…” to mention the stated suspected key contributing factor in that 2010 die-off, mentioned above, for instance.  Was the 2014-2015 Kazakhstan winter exceptionally brutal?  Is spring 2015 exceptionally hot?
  • Secondly, and I must say that I find it a bit odd the media and scientific investigators don’t even raise the issue…. ( I mean… this is Kazakhstan!  If such a die-off happened in Nevada, the US equivalent of what once was a major nuclear testing territory, wouldn’t radioisotope testing be part of any study?)   So, I’ll be looking at whether there was a slow-down in the jet stream, which could have brought down far more significant amounts of radioactive fallout than what was detected in North-Western Europe in spring 2015.  (Strange radioisotopes were detected in the same month of May in Finland (see here) and Germany (see here), + see previous couple dozen blog posts… in my Nuclear Blog Posts archive (list)).

So…

–  Kazakhstan Weather in Winter 2014-2015 and Spring 2015.

I looked at the daily Temperature graphs for the past 5+ years and nope… the winter wasn’t particularly extreme.  The spring not particularly hot. The last two years, in fact, would have fitted that description better than this year.

2010_2011_2012_2-13_2014_June13_2015_hourlyTempBands.Astana_Kazakhstan

juy2012_2013_2014_2015_june_TempsDaily_Astana_Kazakhstan

DATA: Via my Meteo page

-> https://weatherspark.com/history/33754/2015/Astana-Akmola-Province-Kazakhstan

Perhaps the lush pastures contributed…  Sure…  But just glancing the precipitation day by day over the past 3 springs shows that this springs isn’t abnormal at all, either.  Last fall was significantly more wet, yes:

2.5yrsrainAstanaThey’re obviously véry fragile animals.  Perhaps a bit of a “canary in the coal mine”

But again, there’s nothing that stands out to explain the extremeness of this event, as far as the recent past weather’s concerned.  It sure could have been part of causing a die-off, maybe some 10,000 or so animals would have died otherwise anyhow, but for this 100% mortality die-off… nah, sorry, the weather factor ain’t it.

–  Jet Stream Wind Pattern over the Betpak-Dala region of Kazakhstan in the week preceding May 12, 2015.

First looking at low altitude to identify the region:  I’ll pick the spot 49 N, 63 E, about 1/3rd east between the Aral Lake and Lake Balkhash, and then a bit more north, north of the cosmodrome area (which is why they looked at rocket fuel), to get a location to keep my eye on.  Put the marker in 49 N, 63 E @  http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/04/30/2100Z/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=-297.43,41.45,1024 if you want to duplicate what I’m looking at.  (in many of the below screenshots, my area marker *green circle) is placed close to 49N63N, but not spot-on on it);  Does that seem about right for the area these antelopes were in or near?  It’s just to make a rough estimation.

Annotated Screenshot with some markers to find it on a map if you don;t know where in Central Asia this is  (and, of course, Kazakhstan is not a square… ;-) ):

49N62E

This just to show a reference point on the map. Note the big (and very deep) lake to the east, and the smaller (and drying out) smaller one to the southwest. Roughly in the mid-point between ‘Finland’ and ‘Turkey’ is Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Okay, I started out by browsing 24 hours intervals of the jet stream level (250 hPa) and took screenshots for the 2 weeks preceding the beginning of the die-off outbreak (said to have suddenly started on May 10, 2015), so I’m starting with on April 26, 2015…

Around that time is when I realized, Oh yeah, that’s right before the Chernobyl Forest Fires broke out.  Maybe I should look at 500 hPa and keep an eye on possible rain-outs downwind…  What if there were new yet-to-be-mapped hotspots of Alpha- and strong-Beta-emitter Americium-241, or Plutonium 239/240 and Strontium-90?

Some of the nuclear industry’s gift that keeps on giving: Plutonium_1998_Ukraine_KyotoStudy(To keep an eye on the wind patterns coming from north of Kiev, Ukraine: easy to locate by moving upstream the Dnipro River past where it turns due north…, or roughly between Finland and Turkey, as seen in the above screenshot.

You know, for this time frame, I think there are only two possible fallout sources to be considered: rain-out events downwind from the Chernobyl fires, and (speculated ongoing) Fukushima-fallout with hotspots due to rain-out events, perhaps in the few days right right before May 10.  Let’s see…

  • I’ll consider possible Fukushima fallout (ongoing!) delivery by jet stream… and simultaneously I’ll consider radioactive smoke dispersion and rain-out from the Chernobyl Forest Fires (April 26 – May 4, 2015 -ish).  It would be WAY too much to include every time frame, but this will at least give some very basic impressions.  These are more ‘notes’ than “solid evidence”:

April 26, 2015 @ 1200 UTC, 250 hPa:  http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/08/1800Z/wind/isobaric/500hPa/overlay=total_cloud_water/orthographic=53.29,46.85,1024

Here are some screenshots:

These less colorful ones show TWC, which besides wind also shows water concentration (dense clouds that are most likely to cause rain).  On April 27, the wind is blowing from the west.  The antelopes are grazing as occasional light showers pass over.   West in the Ukraine, the forest fires in the Chernobyl nuclear accident contaminated zone are just getting set by arsonists.  There is very little higher-up wind there…

1While Kiev got a brief whiff in the next few days (see further below also), most of the radioactive smoke is blown into Belarus, Russia and beyond.  Given data gaps on EURDEP radiation monitors in Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Iceland, it’s plausible the contaminated smoke reached quite far, and most likely was primarily blown east, and into the Arctic, with possibly some of it being deposited on the far-northern Kazakh border by the very end of April, early May (which is close but not the region of focus).  But right then it didn’t rain in the region, so even if dispersed smoke made it to the area, it seems unlikely much was deposited.

3May 2nd, the Betpak-Dala region now lies in a major jet stream slow-down zone.  If stuff’s blowing in from high above and far-away, around May 2nd this could have occurred.

4The high-above winds pick up shortly, and the area just gets a tiny bit of rain…  Smoke from Chernobyl-2015 would have gone way north of here, not a factor anymore, I think.  May 4:

5May 6, it gets more interesting as far as possible Fukushima / Jet Stream – delivered fallout:  a jet-stream slow-down coincides with rain….

6aA closer look at this jet stream slow-down, May 6 in the late evening, shows this a significant one, the kind that can bring down pollutants that traveled around the globe at that altitude: @ http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/06/2100Z/wind/isobaric/500hPa/orthographic=53.29,46.85,1024

6bGoing higher to 250 hPa and looking at the globe… shows this is indeed the very jet stream that I suspect caries Fukushima fallout:  http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/06/2100Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=1.10,55.36,512

6cAnd that is followed by a strong rain-band passing over the region on May 8…

http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/08/0600Z/wind/isobaric/500hPa/overlay=total_cloud_water/orthographic=35.03,38.19,512

Here comes the rain again…  Raining in my head like a tragedy…

7May 8, mid-day, whatever was in the air rains out as the rain storm system sweeps to the east:

8By the 9th, the weather eases up.

The antelope graze…

9“Rewind” 6 hours, going up to 250hPa…  zoom out…

http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/08/0000Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/overlay=total_cloud_water/orthographic=35.03,38.19,512

10bJust wind:

http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/08/0000Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=35.03,38.19,512

10a“Fast Forward” to May 9, 2015 6am…  http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/09/0600Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=35.03,38.19,512

11aNorth pole view  11b:  http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/09/0600Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-93.07,93.49,274

11b

24-48 hours later, the steppe’s littered with dead and dying antelope…

Well…  It’s clearly not something that can be overlooked.  If fallout blew in with the jet stream… then [looking at the last screenshot] I suppose there would also have to have been radiation upticks over Turkey then… and east of the Adrian Sea over parts of the Balkans…

Here’s the same globe, turned: http://earth.nullschool.net/#2015/05/09/0600Z/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=53.96,52.04,512

Most monitors show nothing, but some do… (The week pre-May 10, 2015):

Afyonkarahisar_Turkey EdirneTurkey Manisa_Turkey Eskisehir_Turkey

Clearly something was blowing over… … and reaching gamma ground monitors in that slow-down zone before reaching Kazakhstan…

Even the Canadian government detected AIRBORNE radioactive pollutants from Fukushima this spring 2015, as mentioned on The Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/series/great-outdoors/video/radiation-from-the-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-has-reached-north

h/t ENEnews (June 18, 2015), “TV: “Canadian gov’t detected airborne elements of radioactive pollutants” from Fukushima — “Radioactive materials are still gushing” from plant — “Unexpected difficulties preventing escape of airborne radioactive contaminants” (VIDEO)” Screenshot:

  • Anything else noteworthy?

I guess it needs to be reiterated: There were VERY ODD detections of radioisotopes in May,and these detections cannot be explained away by the Chernobyl fires, as Chernobyl’s fallout did not include Cobalt-60, and Iodine-131, as well as Zirconium-97 decay away within a few months and a few days, respectively.

And I’ve already brought this up in the past several weeks too: the fact that Beryllium-7 and Iodine-131 correlate suggests that the I-131 is blowing in to the European scene from higher up in the atmosphere.  I have been speculating/hypothesizing that Fukushima is still fissioning, or at least has “fission flare ups” and that the fission tell-tale radioisotopes recently detected, such as I-131 (Detected in Norway in March and May; and in Sweden and Finland in May), Zr-97 (véry short-lived, detected in Germany in May! with a jet stream pattern in place that could explain its fast delivery all the way from Japan), are  adding weight to the likelihood that hypothesis is valid.

I found another example of the Be-7 and I-131 correlation: peak values, as well as lowest values match nicely.  Unvalidated EURDEP data from Czech Republic:

CzechRep_June2015_I131_Be7_NV_eurdepAnd when you check on the wind patterns for that Czech Republic location, you’ll easily find that during the sampling period when both Be-7 and I-131 peaked, there was a high pressure system  moving over the region, which brings down air from higher up down to the surface where the monitors are:

HolesovCzeckRepublic_Area_highPressure_June6_2015_Nullschool250hpaSo…

Looking at the timing of the onset of the massive die-off (May 10), and the lack of wind patterns to supply Chernobyl smoke-fallout to that area… with the die-off kicking in RIGHT after rain with jet stream patterns in place to deliver (speculated) radioactive fallout from Japan… Sadly, it’s entirely possible radioactive fallout played a role.

Innocent until proven guilty, I suppose..  but the Japanese nuclear energy giant TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Company) may be at least partially responsible for the deaths of one hundred thousand or so saiga antelope, beyond the normal spring die-offs.

The fallout event I suspect (and have no proof for! What I have is at most some “suggestive evidence”…) may just have been the straw that broke the antelope’s back, so to speak.  Perhaps the grasses already contained some extra radioCesium, Americium, Plutonium and Strontium from the Chernobyl forest fires too?

I’m not a credentialed scientist, nor am I associated with a university or institution of any kind, but…

Here’s my amateur thought on what also needs to be looked into, if they haven’t yet:   Surgically remove the thyroid glands and do a gammaspectroscopy of those, dissect the lungs and note its color, etc. and do Gamma, Beta and Alpha radiospectroscopies of those tissues, as well as of the liver, kidneys & what’s left of the blood… As well as look for signs of heart trouble, and chemically test for the trace concentrations of various non-radioactive chemicals, including the decay products of various fallout products, which often happen to be heavy metals (lead, nickel, cesium, cobalt,…).

After excluding ‘rocket fuel’, why do NONE of the articles mention anything about radioactive fallout?  (The Chernobyl fires at the very end of April sent unknown amounts of Cs-137, Am-241, Pu-239/240, Sr-90, etc. in the air, with many radiation monitors going into “data gap mode”, and places that only got the slightest of a whiff, like Kiev, which was only briefly downwind, saw air concentrations of Cesium-137 of over 150 Bq/m^3…).

-> Screenshot was included in the blog post, May 3, 2015, Chernobyl Forest Fire UPDATE – w/ Final Additions: 150+ Bq/m^3 Cs-137 in air 100 km from Forest Fires on April 29

Elevated radionuclide levels that could affect the immunity of an already fragile stressed animal is certainly not outside the realm of possibilities, …

See, radioisotope analysis would be the FIRST thing to test for, as some of the radionuclides decay away fast (Like Iodine-131 (half-life: 8 days), or Zirconium-97 (half-life: 16 hours), both of which were mysteriously detected in Europe in the first half of May 2015…, not to mention that freak-mix detected in Finland with Cobalt-60, Ruthenium-103, Niobium-95, Cesium-137 and a few others – (for details, see previous dozen blog posts) and may end up being non-detectable (below ‘minimum detectable concentration’) in some cases even just a few weeks later.  The Finnish authorities (STUK) were going to “ask the neighbors” … yet then the whole “mystery” was somehow forgotten…  No news follow ups…

See, if UNEP & Co were ON IT, they had this data already by the time the Nature article was written.   It’s completely reasonable to assume that IF they’ve tested for these parameters, the data is already known to the inner circle of researchers.   Does their silence on that aspect imply they didn’t test, or that they wouldn’t reveal the findings?

And then a light bulb popped…

UNEP_chernobyl_allofeurope1

Who is coordinating this investigation?

UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme.    Rrright… the organization that was part of “investigating” the effects of Chernobyl and whitewashed that whole disaster like it barely did anything…  Thóse guys are in charge of “investiating” the antelope die-offs?   Oh man…  I wouldn’t be surprised if they got the area (what actually may be ‘a crime scene’) tightly controlled…

Here’s some food for thought from a distinguished scientist:

“[…] Many people are mystified that three UN Agencies (IAEA, WHO and UNEP) appear to be agreeing on the minimal damage done to the people directly affected by Chernobyl and other low dose radiation exposures. I think this is a failure to understand the profound influence wielded by ICRP which dictates not only what should be of concern to UN Agencies, but also provides the methodology which must be used in order to determine both the dose of ionizing radiation received by the victims and the risk posed by that dose. All of the U.N. Agencies use these same protocols, methodologies and risk estimates — hence there are no independent assessments. Reform of the UN must assure independence of its agencies. . . […]”

Chernobyl: An Unbelievable Failure to Help, by Rosalie Bertell, International Journal of Health Services, March 2008 [h/t http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Chernobyl/ ;

Original @ http://www.physiciansofchernobyl.org.ua/eng/Docs/Rosalie%20Bertell%202008.pdf ]

Part of the source material for that  of that includes some interesting research (http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Chernobyl/CaUFtH.html#p11), of which I’ll just quote a tiny excerpt (my emphasis):

“[…]   In 1957, a Memo of Understanding was drawn up between the IAEA and United Nations.   One article of this memo is especially contentious:   Article II states:  “. . . if divulging information may constitute `a violation of the confidence of any of its (IAEA’s) Members or anyone from whom it shall have received such information,’ then such information can be safeguarded as confidential.  […]”

So earlier this week I wrote an email to Ms. Aline Kühl-Stenzel, Terrestrial Species Coordinator, UNEP/CMS Secretariat (mentioned at the end of  http://www.cms.int/en/news/catastrophic-collapse-saiga-antelopes-central-asia)

Dear Ms. Aline Kühl-Stenzel,

First of all, thank you for caring about the amazing planet’s species.  I share in the grave concern for the sad misfortune that recently befell the Saiga Antelope population.

I hope you have time for my two questions:

– Has the environmental factor, or confluence of contributing factors, been identified that weakened the immune system of the Saiga Antelope for this to lead to the extremely odd regional 100% mortality die-off?   (My impression is: Not yet.  Correct?)  Any leads?

– Has very sensitive gamma radioisotope analysis been performed for the grasses, the soil, and various tissues of the animal (thyroid, liver, kidneys, lungs, intestinal track, etc.).  Those results would have been known for weeks; yet I have not even read about the results.  

What where the results for these radioisotopes (gamma spectroscopy): I-131, Co-60, Am-241, Pu-239/240, Cs-134/137, Nb-95, Ru-103, Zr-95/97, as well as Sr-89/90, and gross Alpha and Beta Counts?  Beside the basic gamma spectroscopy, were Beta and Alpha radiospectroscopies performed as well?   Radioactive fallout is known to affect the immunity systems of various species differently.  Is anything known about how this affects the Saiga antelope?   (Is there any data on disease die-offs in post-April 1986, 1987, 1988?, for instance?)

Given possible new hot spots, due to rain-out events of fallout from the Chernobyl forest fires’s radioactive smoke (end of April, early May 2015), as well as possibly ongoing releases from the Fukushima-Daiichi site in Japan (which would have to be carried by the jet stream to make it all the way around), as well as the history of Kazakhstan’s underground nuclear bomb tests way back when, this seems like a factor that ought to be investigated in detail.

I have not found even a mention of results of this vein of investigation, though.  IF radioisotope spectroscopies weren’t performed, are they scheduled to be performed any time soon?  

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Kind Regards,

Michaël Van Broekhoven

No response yet… 

Silence is a bit like data omissions…  “Really hard to interpret”…   I was hoping to include their radioisotope data, but alas… :-/   (  Still waiting…)

TheEPAatItsBest...

  • CONCLUSION?

Not saying radioactive fallout is the culprit, just noting they don’t even mention its possibility, say nothing about data they might have, and that a suspicious agency is involved in the investigation, which is slow in responding to inquiries on the matter (if not entirely unresponsive, we’ll see…).    That’s all I’m saying.

I mean…

It’s more than an entire month after the die-off happened already.  All that radioisotope, chemical and dissection data would already be in.  What did they find?   I can’t find it.  Why don’t they even talk about the radiospectroscopies?

So I just checked the Latest News from the Saiga Conservation Alliance, since their urgent appeal for funds.   And that latest news is… is… is really cute, actually…

I know they just want to do some fundraising, but…  this almost seems like a sick joke…    June 17, 2015:

Sell some more cuddly saiga toys…

Mix in a bunch of fiction

But make sure…

…to never ever mention the nuclear industry.

Sorry, UNEP, *I* didn’t get thát memo. 

— — — — — — —  

No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make “safe” and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilization could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity. It means conducting the economic affairs of man as if people really did not matter at all.

—E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful, 1973 ***

  — — — — — — —

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28 Responses to The “Mysterious” mid-May 2015 Kazakhstan Saiga Antelope Die-Off – aka “Do Not Mention Radioactive Fallout…”

  1. Great write-up, Michael. Interesting and informative as always.

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  5. MVB says:

    Interesting comment at ENEnews: http://enenews.com/tv-emergency-survey-underway-along-west-coast-marine-life-being-affected-ways-never-before-cbs-unusual-increase-dolphin-sea-lion-seabird-deaths-largest-toxic-bloom-anywhere-could-be-happening/comment-page-1#comment-681193

    by: Sickputer
    June 22, 2015 at 9:50 pm Log in to Reply

    […] about the Schmallenberg virus strangeness…

    SP: It is quite puzzling the Germans and Italians and UK animal scientists accepted Japanese research 10,000 miles away for the cause of their own tragic “virus”.

    There was a Fukushima Prefecture and European animal affliction in late 2011-2103 producing deformed and dead newborn sheep, calves, and goats. Their deformities were dead ringers for Cold War radiation research on animals.The mother animals strangely did not suffer the same effects.

    The Japanese connection to the events:

    http://ruleof6ix.fieldofscience.com/2012/05/origin-of-schmallenberg-virus-and-need.html

    “Last week we finally got the answer to where Schmallenberg virus came from. At least genetically speaking that is (we still don’t know from what geographical region it was nor whether it had been in Europe this whole time). But we do now have some clues.

    It has come to light that this previously unheard-of microbe is a mixture of two previously known and closely related viruses: Sathuperi and Shamonda viruses. Writing in Archives of Virology earlier this month, a Japanese group (Yanase et al, from the Japanese National Institute of Animal Health) delved into the depths of bunyavirus genetics and uncovered Schmallenberg’s closest cousins by sequencing a number of other viruses from Africa and Australiasia. Sadly this paper is not open access.”

    SP: You get that? …”sadly not open access”. TBC..

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  16. femalefaust says:

    Though the same can be said for 1981-1982, I find it noteworthy that in the 2 years after Chernobyl (1987 & 1988), there is no data available for ‘disease-killed’.

    i am in the middle of reading this carefully; perhaps you mention the following further on but like an exited little girl raising her hand and simultaneously blurting out an answer in class, may i add this:

    1982A partial core meltdown occurs in reactor No. 1. The extent of the accident was not made public until 1985. The reactor was repaired and put back into operation within months.

    not made public? i doubt many people know about this, or about the how-very-much-worse-it-could-have-been situation for months afterward. nevertheless, i thought the date was interesting, to say the least, in light of your line of inquiry. Source is the Chernobyl Disaster timeline.

    funny, I remember this being in Wikipedia, but it seems to have been removed….

    btw, i find the photograph of the Saiga couple, above, haunting.

    • MVB says:

      Right, refering to a NY Times blog article @ http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/previous-mass-die-offs-of-the-endangered-saiga-antelope-hint-at-a-warm-wet-weedy-culprit-in-kazakhstan/?_r=0
      it mentioned die-off that most likely correspond with fallout from nuclear bomb tests: “in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1981 and 1988.”

      The Saiga Antelope may be particularly sensitive some radioisotopes. Maybe even fast-decaying ones, making it extraordinarily difficult to scientifically ‘proof’ this as a cause. Or they could be extraordinarily sensitive to some decay products, such as various heavy metals. Fact that they don’t mention this fallout as a possible cause and ignore inqueries in that direction is, unfortunately, ‘telling’…. imo.

      If you look at the spike in infant mortality for HUMANS that followed the beginning of the Fukushima-Daiichi catastrophe, for instance, such as in the research of Strahlentelex’ Alfred Körblein (Nov. 4, 2014) @ http://www.strahlentelex.de/Koerblein_Fukushima-update_engl.pdf it doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.

      The way these masters of public perception management appear to be playing their teribly misguided deception game is 1) monitor and test as little as possible (no data = no baseline, no way to establish patterns with high probability), and 2) keep as many leaks as possible completely secret, so data on consequences can’t be correlated with causes. Similarly how Japan burns radioactive waste all over Japan, which essentially will cause cancers and other afflictions in regions that didn’t get as much direct fallout. And thus when they end up doing statistics showing “deviations from average”, much of the upticks will be hidden in the spread-out consequences.

  17. femalefaust says:

    finished. must say, your blogging is exemplary, and i hold it up before myself, when i’m feeling confident, for inspiration. well done: i can only hope that TPTB that be relevant be reading it as well.

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