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  • Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes


    3,000 endangered antelopes dead
    2010-05-22 18:20:00

    /RIA Novosti) Some 3,200 saiga antelopes have died of unknown causes in Kazakhstan, the emergencies ministry said Saturday.

    'As of Friday evening it was established that 3,200 saiga antelopes had died in an area of 4,500 hectares,' a ministry statement said.

    It said there was no indication of an outbreak of any disease in the area.

    The first dead saiga antelopes were discovered May 18.

    The saiga antelope, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, inhabits in southern Russia, Kazakhstan and parts of Mongolia.

    --IANS/RIA Novosti


  • #2
    Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes


    Translated be Google from French:

    Romandie News Text
    Kazakhstan: mass death saiga antelope probably due to pasteurellosis

    ALMATY - Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture announced Monday that the recent death in Western countries more than 3,000 saiga, an antelope endangered, was probably due to an outbreak of pasteurellosis.

    "According to preliminary findings, the cause of the outbreak is pasteurellosis," said the director of the Inspection Committee of the complex food ministry Akhmetzhan Sultanov, quoted by Interfax-Kazakhstan.

    He also said that last week the bodies of 3271 animals were found. "Samples of soil and water have been made and were sent for analysis to the regional laboratory.

    Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture had indicated a suspected poisoning was behind the slaughter of saiga, which were found with "distended bellies, a greenish foam at the mouth and a very severe diarrhea .

    Pasteurellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria and can take many forms hemorrhagic septicemia, intestinal and respiratory diseases, according to the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). The mortality rate can sometimes reach the animal from 70 to 100%.

    The saiga antelope, which lives in the steppes of Kazakhstan, western Mongolia and Russia near the Caspian Sea, has seen its population decline since the 1990s a million people to about 50,000, according to the site World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

    The Ministry of Kazakhstan considers it to share that in 2009 there were 81,000 animals, including 26,600 in the region where the dead of saiga have been observed in recent days.

    The horns of males are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine, which has led to a boom in poaching after the fall of the Soviet Union. The saiga habitat is also threatened by the expansion of agriculture.

    The saiga antelope only in Europe, is easily recognizable by its long snout that looks like a short trunk.

    Also see:

    Eurasian Antelope Suffering from outbreak of Pasteurellosis
    By Barbara Lock, MD
    May 25, 2010

    SaigaThe Kazakhstan population of the Eurasian antelope known as the Saiga, is suffering from an outbreak of Pasteurellosis, according to In the past week, more than 3,000 Saiga bodies have been found, with evidence of "distended bellies, a greenish foam at the mouth and a very severe diarrhea," according to the Kazakh Minister of Agriculture...

    ...The type of Pasteurella that typically infects the Saiga, Pasteurella haemolytica, is not usually considered a human threat, but a variety known as var. ureae has been isolated from the sputum (lung secretions) of some people, and has been tagged as the microbial culprit in extremely rare cases of human infection, including infectious endocarditis, meningitis, pneumonia, hepatitis, and peritonitis. Pasteurella haemolytica is not as responsive to common antibiotics as P. multocida.

    Pasteurella Haemolytica can also infect livestock, specifically ruminants...


    • #3
      Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

      ProMED has been all over this, with several postings in both English and Russian. Here is the most recent:,82891

      Archive Number 20100524.1726
      Published Date 24-MAY-2010
      Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Undiagnosed die-off, antelopes - Kazakhstan (02): infectious, RFI

      A ProMED-mail post
      ProMED-mail is a program of the
      International Society for Infectious Diseases

      Date: Mon 24 May 2010
      Source: AFP via Straights Times, Singapore [edited]

      More than 3000 endangered Saiga antelopes have died in a suspected
      epidemic in Kazakhstan, an environmental official said on Monday [24 May 2010].

      So far, 3271 of the small antelopes have been found dead, an
      agriculture ministry official, Akhmetzhan Sultanov, told journalists,
      cited by Interfax-Kazakhstan.

      The animals appear to have died from an infectious disease,
      pasteurellosis, Mr Sultanov said [see comment]. The often deadly
      infection strikes the lungs and intestines and needs to be treated
      with antibiotics.

      A ministry official said last week that the investigators initially
      believed the animals had been poisoned.

      Saiga antelopes, which have distinctive bulbous noses, are listed as
      a critically endangered species by WWF, with an estimated population
      of 50 000. The Kazakh agriculture ministry puts the country's
      population at 81 000 antelopes, however.

      Saiga migrate between Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia,
      Turkmenistan and China. The number of Saiga fell drastically after
      the collapse of the Soviet Union, due to uncontrolled hunting and
      demand for their horns in Chinese medicine.

      Communicated by:
      ProMED-mail Rapporteur George Robertson

      [Before incriminating _Pasteurella_ as the primary etiological agent
      of the described mass mortality in Kazakhi Saiga antelopes, other
      pathogens, in particular FMD virus, should be excluded; bacterial
      pneumonia could be secondary, with _Pasteurella_ being a likely candidate.

      Pneumonia was seen also in earlier FMD outbreaks in antelopes,
      including a major outbreak in Saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan (see
      commentary and references in posting 20100522.1702).

      During an extensive FMD outbreak seen in wild mountain gazelles in
      Israel in 1985 [Veterinary Record (1986) 119, 175-176], oral and
      podal lesions were seen, in some cases leading to separation of
      hooves and loss of horns. Macroscopic muscular lesions were observed
      in the heart of most animals examined, as well as in the diaphragmal,
      lingual and other skeletal muscles. In some cases, slight but
      distinct lesions were seen on omasal folds. Other common changes
      included pneumonia, but due to biosecurity considerations, no
      bacteriological examinations were allowed. Most animals examined were
      in excellent nutritional condition, indicating that the course of the
      disease was peracute. Some animals, although adjacent to water,
      manifested severe dehydration. This was probably because of an
      inability to drink caused by lingual muscular changes. FMD virus type
      0 was isolated from the mouth and foot lesions as well as from a
      sample of affected heart muscle. Similar mortality and lesions were
      observed in experimental infection trials in gazelles performed
      subsequently with the same virus strain. - Mod.AS]

      [For the interactive HealthMap/ProMED map of Kazakhstan, see
      <>. - Mod.MPP]

      [see also:
      Foot & mouth disease, wildlife - Nepal: susp. RFI 20100523.1713
      Undiagnosed die-off, antelopes - Kazakhstan: (west), RFI 20100522.1702
      Foot & mouth disease, antelope - Russia: (ZB) susp, RFI 20100202.0354
      Foot & mouth disease, bovine - Kazakhstan (Karaganda): susp. 20070422.1318
      Foot & mouth disease, gazelle - Mongolia (02) 20040221.0559]
      Foot & mouth disease, gazelle - Mongolia 20040219.0540]


      • #4
        Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes,82910

        Archive Number 20100525.1740
        Published Date 25-MAY-2010
        Subject PRO/AH> Undiagnosed die-off, antelopes - Kazakhstan (03): infectious, RFI

        A ProMED-mail post
        ProMED-mail is a program of the
        International Society for Infectious Diseases

        Date: Tue 25 May 2010
        From: David Thomson <> [edited]

        If this outbreak is primarily due to a pasteurella as speculated, it
        may be of interest to compare it with the one responsible for deaths
        amongst rocky mountain bighorn sheep in the USA.

        I'd further guess that the apparent scale/speed of this outbreak
        might also be somewhat novel for a pasteurella outbreak amongst a
        wild, free-ranging species, but not necessarily so for FMD as also

        David Thomson
        Sub-regional Animal Health Specialist
        SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community)
        Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

        [The following abstract may add some background to Dr Thomson's just
        comment, in relation to Saiga antelopes:

        Abstract: _Pasteurella haemolytica_ leukotoxin is a pore-forming
        cytolysin which acts as a virulence factor in pasteurellosis of
        domestic ruminants. Leukocytes from cattle, sheep and goats are
        susceptible to leukotoxin-induced lysis; however, leukocytes from
        non-ruminant species so far tested are resistant to
        leukotoxin-induced lysis. Neutrophils obtained from 3 white-tailed
        deer, 4 Saiga antelope, an Addra gazelle, a Grant's gazelle and a
        Sable antelope were tested for susceptibility to the lytic effects of
        _P. haemolytica_ leukotoxin using lactate dehydrogenase release.
        Results were compared to those obtained using neutrophils from a
        steer and cultured bovine lymphoma cells. Neutrophils obtained from
        all these ruminants, except the Addra gazelle, were susceptible to
        _P. haemolytica_ leukotoxin. Individual variation among the Saiga and
        the deer did not appear to be due to the percentages of neutrophils
        or the percentage of contaminating erythrocytes in the cell
        preparations. !
        (A. W. Confer,, K. R. Simons1, M. T. Barrie & K. D. Clinkenbeard
        (1990). Effects of _pasteurella haemolytica_ leukotoxin on
        neutrophils from white-tailed deer and several exotic ruminant
        species. J Vet Res Communication, Vol 14, 3, 175-180).

        Results of the laboratory investigations in Kazakhstan, with special
        reference to FMD virus, are urgently anticipated.

        The global weight of major epizootics and the strategic position of
        Kazakhstan within the Asian realm is demonstrated by the started
        construction of a USD 103 million reference laboratory for the study
        of contagious animal and human diseases in Almaty. The facility is
        being funded through the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program. -

        Date: Tue 25 May 2010
        From: Peter Roeder <>

        While I agree with your moderator's comments about considering FMD in
        the differential diagnosis of mortality in Saiga antelope, I would
        like to point out that there is another contender which merits
        serious attention, and that is peste des petits ruminants (PPR). The
        PPR host range among small ruminants is broad, and, in outbreaks
        encountered in zoological gardens in the Middle East, many different
        species of antelope have succumbed. It is also known that PPR has
        been responsible for deaths of wild sheep in Pakistan recently. We
        know virtually nothing about the susceptibility of species such as
        Saiga antelope, but it is highly likely that they are very
        susceptible and would suffer high morbidity and mortality in virgin

        In the last decade or so, PPR has greatly extended its range into
        China and the Central Asian Republics, confirmed in the case of
        Tajikistan, and is a cause for concern in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
        even though presence of the virus might not have been confirmed in
        either country. I would like to stress that in many countries, PPR
        has not been recognised on 1st introduction into goats and/or sheep
        herds/flocks. Repeatedly, its recognition has been delayed for
        considerable periods of time, even years, because of confusion with
        pasteurellosis. PPR in small ruminants has a marked pneumonic
        component, and, as in all pneumonic conditions of small ruminants, it
        is usual to be able to isolate pasteurella organisms (_Manheimia
        haemolytica_) on bacterial culture of lung. Unspecified "poisoning"
        is also commonly suspected. It is perhaps understandable that newly
        affected countries do not have dedicated diagnostics in place for all
        especially dangerous pathogens, but there is no reason why the
        diagnosis should not be undertaken by use of the free service
        provided by the World Reference Laboratory for Morbilliviruses hosted
        by the UK's Institute for Animal Health Pirbright Laboratory (e-mail
        Dr Chris Oura for assistance: <>).

        The few Saiga and other antelope species still remaining in the wild
        in Central Asia are a valuable global resource which, like all
        free-living ungulates, are under severe threat from human activities
        including habitat destruction and livestock diseases. We do not seem
        to have a mechanism to detect with accuracy the aetiology of disease
        in such animals let alone any ability to do anything about it.
        Repeatedly, we see in ProMED posts reports of wildlife disease, even
        die-offs, and yet rarely is there a systematic investigation leading
        to a definitive and credible diagnosis. In 2010, one could perhaps
        hope for better.

        Dr Peter Roeder, BVetMed, MSc, PhD, MRCVS, OBE
        Taurus Animal Health
        Headley Down Hampshire GU35 8SY

        [Thanks to Dr Roeder for rightly reminding us of PPR as a very
        important potential health hazard for (small ruminants) wildlife in
        Asia. In addition to PPR, other diseases sometimes mistaken to be
        caused by _Pasteurella_ organisms, such as orbivirus diseases
        (bluetongue, EHD), also deserve consideration.

        This moderator fully shares Dr Roeder's concerns about the plight of
        disease-threatened wildlife and his suggestion to affected countries
        to approach available expertise resources for diagnostic support. The
        cooperative investigation into FMD virus replication in heart muscle
        of wild cloven-foot animals by a newly developed test, just proposed
        by a research worker at the Pirbright laboratory (today's 25 May 2010
        posting 20100525.1736) is an additional, welcomed example and
        relevant to the issue at stake. - Mod.AS]


        • #5
          Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

          Disease kills endangered antelopes in Kazakhstan
          28 May 2010 14:12:46 GMT
          <!-- 28 May 2010 14:12:46 GMT ## for search indexer, do not remove -->Source: Reuters

          <!-- AN5.0 article title end --><SCRIPT language=JavaScript src="/bin/js/article.js"></SCRIPT></SPAN>
          <!-- Disease kills endangered antelopes in Kazakhstan --><!-- Reuters -->ALMATY, May 28 (Reuters) - Disease has killed about 15 percent of the saiga antelope population in Kazakhstan over the past week in the biggest threat to the endangered species since poachers decimated their numbers in the 1990s.

          Kazakhstan has launched an investigation into an outbreak of pasteurellosis, a disease affecting the lungs, after nearly 12,000 saiga antelope died within a 4,500-hectare (17-sq-mile) area of western Kazakhstan, the Emergencies Ministry said on Friday.

          "It's a major blow to the saiga population," Olga Pereladova, director of the WWF's Central Asia programme, told Reuters by telephone from Moscow.

          The saiga antelope lives mainly on the steppe of Kazakhstan, western Mongolia and the Russian region of Kalmykia. Kazakhstan's saiga antelope population was around 81,000 last year, before the epidemic, Agriculture Ministry data shows.

          Overall saiga numbers began to fall from above 1 million after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Poachers killed large numbers for their horns, which are used in Chinese medicine.

          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.

          "For the Ural saiga population, this is a catastrophe," she said.

          Veterinarians and emergency officials are burning the carcasses and organising quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the disease, a Kazakh Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman said.

          (Reporting by Robin Paxton and Maria Gordeyeva)

          "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
          -Nelson Mandela


          • #6
            Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes


            Archive Number 20100531.1815
            Published Date 31-MAY-2010
            Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Undiagnosed die-off, antelopes - Kazakhstan (04): toxin susp. RFI

            ************************************************** ***********************
            A ProMED-mail post
            ProMED-mail is a program of the
            International Society for Infectious Diseases

            Date: Mon 31 May 2010
            From: Arnon Shimshony <>

            Re: Undiagnosed die-off, antelopes - Kazakhstan: (West) RFI
            In response to ProMED-mail's repeated requests for information
            regarding a die-off in Saiga antelopes in West Kazakhstan, we have
            received from a reliable source the following report, derived from a
            local Internet website in Kazakhstan:

            "In an interview with Kazakhstan's media a hunter from West Kazakhstan
            region declared that the official version of pasteurellosis is
            unlikely, while there is an obvious poisoning of saiga. During visual
            examination of dead animals, sanitary doctors discovered a swollen
            belly, and on the faces of the animals -- green-coloured foam. The
            reason, according to Rangers, could have been poisonous chemicals,
            scattered from helicopters over the fields.

            People of Zhanibek district of West Kazakhstan region, who first
            discovered the cases in animals, are confident that the real reason is
            the Russian missile military training ground "Kapustin Yar", which is
            located nearby. Villagers told that the local steppe was strewn with
            white powder, and just before the death of the animals a black gray
            cloud appeared in the air, although the weather was clear and
            cloudless. At the same time people felt, during these days, sharply
            deteriorated [acutely ill?] and villagers were seeking for medical

            We have further noted from reliable sources as follows. The Western
            Kazakhstan lab diagnosed _Pasteurella_ and ruled out both FMD
            (foot-and-mouth disease) and PPR (peste des petits ruminants). The
            National Monitoring Centre and Reference lab for diagnosis and
            veterinary medicine in Astana, Kazakhstan is pursuing tests of samples
            but no definitive infectious agent has yet been isolated.

            It has also been pointed out that wildlife diseases are primarily
            within the responsibility of the Hunting and Forestry Committee and
            not that of the Veterinary Services. but a close collaboration between
            the 2 departments exists.

            Arnon Shimshony
            ProMED-mail Animal Disease and Zoonoses Moderator

            [Interestingly, mass mortality of saigas in 1988 that was attributed
            to pasteurellosis was, reportedly, thought by some senior scientists
            at the Kazakh Veterinary Science Research Institute (KazNIVI) to have
            been caused by something the saigas encountered when grazing close to
            a military base. The whole area was closed off after the saigas died,
            and senior officials from Moscow were flown in to take part in the
            investigation. Scientists at KazNIVI felt the incident was 'hushed up'
            and too quickly attributed to pasteurellosis (see page 17 in: Monica
            Lundervold: Infectious diseases of saiga antelopes and domestic
            livestock in Kazakhstan. Thesis, University of Warwick, UK June 2001.

            Though pasteurella has, reportedly, been isolated from samples from
            dead saigas, the significance of this finding is arguable. On top of
            detailed laboratory results, including toxicological, it will be
            interesting to note if the mortality continues and to obtain
            descriptions of observed clinical signs and their duration, recovery
            rate, as well as further epidemiological data, such as age
            distribution and spatial spread.

            The definitive etiology, infectious, toxicological or otherwise, of
            the observed mass mortality in the Ural saigas remains to be
            established. - Mod.AS]

            [Toxic plants are always a possibility. As the plants are in a green
            and rapidly growing season, animals hungry for the lush green may
            consume plants that can result in death. The green foam is most
            likely only regurgitation from the rumen.

            _Pasteurella_ may be an opportunistic species taking advantage of an
            immune system perhaps weakened by a chemical. White powder could be
            any number of things from a powdered pesticide (insecticide) such as
            an organophosphate or a carbamate, which could produce excess
            salivation, to even a herbicide in concentrated wettable powder form.
            Adequate necropsy specimens in a diagnostic laboratory would be
            helpful to determine the cause of death.

            For background information on Saigas and their conservation,
            including pictures, see <>).
            - Mod TG]


            • #7
              Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

              #8: PROMED
              "on the faces of the animals -- green-coloured foam"

              "... training ground located nearby. Villagers told that the local steppe was strewn with white powder, and just before the death of the animals a black gray
              cloud appeared in the air, although the weather was clear and cloudless
              . At the same time people felt, during these days, sharply
              deteriorated [acutely ill?] and villagers were seeking for medical help."

              it seems an quite resolved question now

              Kaz. area chem. expers/accidents ...


              • #8
                Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

                Jun 1, 2010 06:10 PM
                Epidemic kills 12,000 critically endangered antelopes

                By John Platt

                <STYLE type=text/css> .atools_holder {border:#e4e0dd 1px solid; width:78px; background-color:#e4e0dd; color:#999; text-align:center; margin:0 0 5px 5px;} .atools_holder {text-align:-moz-center} .atools {width:98%; padding:3px 1px 0 0} .atools {text-align:-moz-center} .atools img {margin-bottom:5px; display:block;} .badge {padding: 2px; background-color:#fff; width:54px;margin-bottom:3px; left: 50%;} #atools_sponsor {width:88px;} #atools_sponsor span {font-size:8px !important; color:#999; font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif !important; text-align:center} </STYLE><SCRIPT type=text/javascript> var newURL = ""; newURL = location.href.replace(/&[e|s]c=[A-Za-z0-9_]{2,15}/,''); //strip ec or sc codes newURL = newURL.replace(/&page=[0-9]{1,2}/,''); //strip pagination from articles newURL = newURL.replace(/&SID=mail/,''); //strip SID from mailarticle feature var newTitle = document.title; //alert(newURL) digg_url = newURL; </SCRIPT>At least 12,000 critically endangered saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica) have been found dead in Kazakhstan in the past two weeks, victims of a mysterious epidemic. The deaths represent about 15 percent of the species' worldwide population.
                Saiga antelopes used to number above one million, but the breakup of the Soviet Union led to rampant poaching throughout the species' range and 95 percent of the animals were killed off. Just 81,000 of the antelopes remained in five isolated populations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia. Until this outbreak, the Kazakh population numbered 26,000 animals, almost half of which have now died.
                So what caused the outbreak? According to tests by the Kazakh government, the antelopes died of pasteurellosis, an infection that afflicts the lungs. According to a release by the IUCN, "Pasteurellosis is caused by a bacterium that lives naturally in healthy individuals, but can cause acute illness and rapid death if the animal's immune system is compromised, either by another infection, poisoning, stress or malnutrition."
                Olga Pereladova, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Central Asia Program, told the Daily Telegraph that the animals might have been malnourished following an unusually cold winter and by an overly hot spring, which may have contributed to the spread of the disease.
                Serik Imanukulov, a Kazakh official who heads the department of sanitary and epidemiology in the area, told the AFP news service that the infection may have now passed, and predicts that no more deaths will occur. "We can say the outbreak of the infection has passed and come to a close," Imanukulov said. "I do not think there will be new cases of mass deaths among the saiga at present."
                A spokesperson for the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry told the Telegraph that the dead saiga are being burned to prevent further spread of the disease.




                • #9
                  Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

                  #8: "According to tests by the Kazakh government"

                  t., #7: ... chem ...

                  ahm, it seems I forgot to added BIOchem ...

                  maybe it is realy an natural epidemic ongoing there, now over - says gov.,
                  and 2 weeks of incubated illness on malnourished animals could realy cut them off in huge quantities,

                  but stil, 12 thousand of them dead in 2 weeks is huge,

                  or maybe in less time:
                  "During visual examination of dead animals, sanitary doctors discovered a swollen belly, and on the faces of the animals -- green-coloured foam."
                  "just before the death of the animals a black gray cloud appeared in the air"

                  from the above,
                  eye witness sanitary examinator doctors found them green foamed,
                  a sign which usualy represent an venomous chem deadly intoxication

                  additionaly, eye witness spoke of sudden death of animals (so, at once),
                  just after an black cloud appeared in a sky without clouds ...

                  and finaly,
                  isn't the Kaz. area, from published public news,
                  already from previous act., known as an former bio-testing area ...


                  Former Soviet Biological Weapons
                  Facilities in Kazakhstan:
                  Past, Present, and Future

                  Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project

                  Occasional Paper No. 1


                  Gulbarshyn Bozheyeva
                  Yerlan Kunakbayev
                  Dastan Yeleukenov

                  Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project


                  C Monterey Institute of International Studies, June 1999



                  Updated September 2009
                  Biological Overview

                  Kazakhstan, as an independent country, has never been engaged in an offensive or defensive biological warfare (BW) program, and has acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 2007. However, its territory was used extensively by the Soviet government for research, production, and testing of biological warfare agents. Within the Soviet BW structure, Kazakhstan housed four BW research, production, and testing sites that played a key role in the development of the Soviet offensive BW program. These facilities reported to different central authorities in Moscow and belonged to various parts of the complicated Soviet BW structure, which was a network of numerous facilities under military and/or civilian control. Since the break up of the Soviet Union, the biological weapons program has been halted in Kazakhstan and BW facilities have been either dismantled or converted. Unlike in Russia, where some former Soviet BW facilities are alleged to be maintaining the capability to produce BW agents alongside legitimate activities, the Kazakhstani government has been remarkably open with respect to facilities on its territory. The four main Soviet BW facilities in Kazakhstan directly or indirectly involved in the Soviet offensive BW program were the Vozrozhdeniye Island Open-Air Test Site in the Aral Sea; the Scientific Experimental and Production Base (SNOPB) in Stepnogorsk; the Scientific Research Agricultural Institute (NISKhI) in Gvardeyskiy; and the Anti-Plague Scientific Research Institute in Almaty.
                  The USSR conducted extensive research and development of its offensive BW program in Kazakhstan, but Kazakhstan does not have a history of a BW program as an independent country. Thus, the history of BW activities in Kazakhstan is largely related to the Soviet BW developments.
                  The Soviet Union had the world's largest BW program, which in the course of 20th century developed a capability for wartime production of hundreds of tons of a range of biological agents causing plague, tularemia, glanders, anthrax, smallpox, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis. Soviet BW activities took root in the late 1920s, with the early Soviet BW facilities developing antipersonnel BW agents. Most elements of the program were controlled by the Soviet military, including the following facilities: the Scientific Research Institute of Microbiology in Kirov (now Vyatka) Russia; the Center for Military-Technical Problems of Anti-Bacteriological Defense in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), Russia; the Center of Virology in Zagorsk (now Sergiyev Posad), Russia; the Scientific Research Institute of Military Medicine in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. In addition to those Soviet BW facilities operating on Russian territory, in 1936 the Soviet government established the Open-Air Test Site on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan. Vozrozhdeniye Island became the major proving ground in the Soviet Union for the open-air testing of BW agents developed at various Soviet facilities and was directly operated by the Soviet Ministry of Defense (MOD). The other early Soviet BW facility on Kazakhstani territory was the Scientific Research Agricultural Institute (NISKhI) in Gvardeyskiy settlement, located in Zhambyl Oblast, which worked on microbial agents harmful to livestock and plants. Though formally under the control of the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture, the NISKhI, established in 1958, was also likely supervised by the MOD.
                  In the early 1970s, the Soviet authorities began creating a new network of BW facilities parallel to its military system that were officially designed to conduct civilian research, though they also served as a cover for military-related BW activities. In 1972, the USSR Council of Ministers established a secret Interagency Science and Technology Council on Molecular Biology and Genetics consisting of representatives from the MOD, the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1973, the All-Union Production Association Biopreparat was created by the Decree of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party and the USSR Council of Ministers, which was tasked with implementing the programs approved by the Interagency Council. Although formally subordinated to the civilian Main Administration of Microbiological Industry (Glavmikrobioprom), Biopreparat was funded by the MOD and the head of the organization held the rank of lieutenant-general. Approximately forty research, development, and production facilities were operating under Biopreparat, many of which were actively involved in military BW programs in addition to civilian biotechnological activities. The covert military BW activities conducted in this new network of facilities were in obvious violation of the Soviet Union's obligation to stop all offensive BW activities as stipulated under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), signed by Russia in 1972.
                  The leading Biopreparat facilities involved in an offensive BW program included the State Scientific Center of Applied Microbiology in Obolensk, Russia; the Institute of Immunological Studies in Lyubuchany, Russia; the State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology (known as Vector) near Novosibirsk, Russia; the State Scientific Institute of Ultrapure Biological Preparations in Leningrad, Russia; and the Scientific Experimental and Production Base (SNOPB) in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan. Like the military biotechnological centers, the work at those Biopreparat facilities was supervised by the 15th Directorate of MOD; the military and Biopreparat facilities also shared some technologies and personnel.
                  In addition to aforementioned facilities, other Soviet facilities were involved in defensive developments. The Soviet Union developed the system of anti-plague research institutes and field monitoring stations under the Soviet Ministry of Health (one such institute was operated in Almaty, Kazakhstan). Some institutes were also under the control of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Although those facilities were mainly responsible for civilian scientific or epidemiological investigations and did not have direct links to MOD or Biopreparat BW facilities, on many occasions they were involved in supportive research activities to well-funded military projects.
                  In 1991-1992, Russia halted funding to the former Soviet BW centers in Kazakhstan, closed their military programs, and abandoned the sites. As a result, all Soviet offensive and defensive BW programs on Kazakhstani territory were terminated, and the four major BW facilities were either dismantled or converted.
                  Following a number of decrees by the Russian and Kazakhstani governments issued after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Vozrozhdeniye Island facilities were dismantled, the site's infrastructure destroyed, and its military settlement abandoned; this was confirmed by experts from the U.S. Department of Defense assessing the site in 1995.
                  Since 1991, the Kazakhstani government has committed itself to the civilian conversion of the former Soviet facilities, particularly the SNOPB and the NISKhI. Due to lack of funds and necessary expertise, the initial efforts were unsuccessful. In 1993, the Presidential Edict of the Republic of Kazakhstan founded the National Center for Biotechnology (NCB), which brought together most of the former Soviet military and civilian biotechnology facilities in Kazakhstan, among them the SNOPB and the NISKhI. The NCB did not initially include the Anti-Plague Scientific Research Institute in Almaty, which was put under the authority of the Kazakhstani Ministry of Health. Because a substantial amount of equipment was dismantled or destroyed in the SNOPB, its civilian conversion has required considerable financial and material resources. On the other hand, the NISKhI, which had fewer and much smaller items of military-related equipment to dismantle and convert, made the transition to civilian production on its own. For Almaty Anti-Plague Institute, most of its equipment was already suitable for civilian applications. The task of converting weapons-related expertise to peaceful production required considerable effort at all of the former Soviet BW facilities in Kazakhstan.
                  In December 2004, Astana and Washington signed an agreement designed to eliminate the biological weapons proliferation threat or the use of related technology or know-how by terrorists. This was an amendment to the 1995 bilateral agreement that is part of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program designed to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons technology, pathogens, and expertise. The $35 million in U.S. assistance has been used to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons through cooperative research efforts, strengthen biosafety and biosecurity at Kazakhstani facilities, consolidate dangerous biological agents at secured central repositories, eliminate BW-related equipment and infrastructure, and bolster Kazakhstan's ability to detect biological agents and to deter or respond to an attack.
                  In August 2005, the National Center for Biotechnology was reorganized into the state enterprise "National Center for Biotechnology of the Republic of Kazakhstan" and placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science. At present, NCB is a leading organization that carries out applied research on multiple projects, including avian influenza, with a mission to transform Kazakhstan's biotechnology sector into a profitable high technologies sector.
                  In August 2006, Kazakhstani officials indicated that the country planned to expand its biological weapon nonproliferation measures. Specifically, the country intends to create a disease surveillance system by constructing and modernizing diagnostic laboratories, improving the physical protection at biological facilities, and expanding joint research between Kazakhstani and U.S. scientists.
                  Key Sources:
                  [1] Gulbarshyn Bozheyeva, Yerlan Kunakbayev, and Dastan Yeleukenov, "Former Soviet Biological Weapons Facilities in Kazakhstan: Past, Present and Future," Occasional Paper, No. 1, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, June 1999.
                  [2] Jonathan B. Tucker and Raymond A. Zilinskas, "The 1971 Smallpox Epidemic in Aralsk, Kazakhstan, and the Soviet Biological Warfare Program," Occasional Paper No. 9, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, June 2002.
                  [3] Anthony Rimmington, "The Biopharmaceutical Industry in Kazakhstan: Opportunities for UK Companies," Report of the DTI OSTEMS 'Scout' Mission to Kazakhstan, University of Birmingham, July 1995.
                  [4] Official web site of the National Center for Biotechnology under the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science, accessed 3 March 2008, <http:"" ncb.htm="">.</http:>


                  • #10
                    Re: Kazakhstan:3,000 endangered antelopes dead of unknown causes

                    #9 pdf excerpt:

                    One of the oldest Soviet BW development centers, NISKhI was established in 1958 in the settlement of Gvardeyskiy outside the city of
                    Otar, about 180 kilometers from Almaty
                    Although the institute was subordinated to the USSR Ministry of Agriculture, its director held military rank.
                    Moreover, the institute was located within a military settlement and it was necessary to pass three security posts to reach it.84
                    It occupied a territory of 19 hectares, including 15 laboratories, a vivarium, greenhouses, agricultural technology, and a vaccine production facility, and employed more than 400 people.85
                    83 NISKhI stands for Nauchno-issledovatelskiy selskokhozyaystvennyy institut. Gvardeyskiy, in the Korday region of Zhambyl Oblast,
                    is 3 kilometers from the Otar railroad station and has a population of about 5,000. Information obtained during the authors’ visit to Gvardeyskiy in October 1998; “NISKhI.
                    Scientific Research Agricultural Institute. Settlement of Gvardeyskiy. National Center for Biotechnology of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” brochure presented by NISKhI Director Dr. Seydigappar Mamadaliyev, October 1998, p. 1.
                    84 The military guards have remained to the present day because the Kazakhstani Ministry of Defense operates a large training center in Gvardeyskiy.
                    85 Interview with Dr. Seydigappar
                    Last edited by tropical; June 2, 2010, 08:43 AM. Reason: pdf excerpt