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17 May, 2008 14:42

Starving gazelles flock to Russia

Around 100,000 gazelles are on their way to Russia. The animals, which usually live in Mongolia, have been forced across the border in search of food and water. Earlier this week hundreds died after being snagged in barbed wire at the border. An operation

It is hoped the animals will be able to migrate safely to the Daursky Nature Reserve in Russia once the barbed wire fence has been taken down.

They've been forced to flee their native land by Mongolia’s worst drought in 20 years.

Russian frontier guards, together with officers of the Daursky Nature Reserve, have also set up drinking bowls for the thirsty animals. They are also releasing those gazelles entangled in the wire, which number around 20,000 animals.

Although the frontier guards are removing the border structures to let the migrating antelopes into Russia, it is impossible to open the border completely for security reasons.

“The frontier post protects the border. During this project we are using all our resources to keep the border secure,” said frontier guard Pavel Nazarov .

Vets say there is a threat to livestock in the area. The antelopes can carry deadly infections, for example, foot-and-mouth disease.

“Nine out of ten gazelles had foot-and-mouth disease. Those who/ve had it once carry this infection,” said vet Viktor Kulabukhov.

Now the antelopes are getting ready for calving in June. After that, it’s unclear whether the gazelles will stay in Russian pastures or return to Mongolia.