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Likely cause of mass Saiga die-off revealed
Saiga are one of the most threatened species on the planet.

RVC professor presents his latest findings

A mystery illness that wiped out more than half the world's population of Saiga antelopes this year was most likely caused by haemorraghic septicaemia, according to the RVC's Professor Richard Kock.

The mass die-off in Kazakhstan is said to have begun in May this year, when tens of thousands of animals were found dead in just a matter of days. Now, the number of affected animals is said to be 250,000.

Saiga are one of the most threatened species on the planet, having suffered a 95 per cent decline in 15 years.

Following the mass deaths in May, the United Nations Environment Programme Convention on Migratory Species called an emergency conference to help restore the population.

Prof Kock was one of the first vets on the scene when the die-off began. Alongside a team supported by the National Environment Research Council, he is working with those in Kazakhstan to help understand these catastrophic deaths.

Presenting his findings, Prof Kock confirmed haemorraghic septicaemia to be the most likely culprit. But the question remains, what triggered this event across 160,000 square kilometres on the Kazakh steppe?

Prof Kock will continue to work alongside numerous organisations and authorities, providing expert opinions on how best to support and rebuild the Saiga population.

Image credit: Seilov - BY 3.0

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”