"Saigas in distress" is the title of a new multimedia report by Deutsche Welle about the mass extinction of the endangered Kazakh antelope.
Whether viewed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer, the documentary from the environment series "Global Ideas" makes viewers feel as if they are a part of the expedition.
DW reporter Inga Sieg and her team accompanied Steffen Zuther, project head at the Frankfurt Zoological Society (ZGF), and a team of international researchers on an expedition to the uninhabited expanses of Kazakhstan. They gathered a huge amount of video material, images and sounds. With the help of the multimedia software Pageflow, a steady stream of storytelling takes the audience along for the ride.
The mysterious mass mortalities of the ancient animals
Saiga antelopes have existed since the days when mammoths still roamed the earth. Known for their trunk-like noses, the animals are threatened with extinction. In spring 2015, nearly 200,000 saiga antelopes died within just a few weeks in central Kazakhstan, leaving behind a puzzle for scientists and environmentalists to solve. They found that a bacteria was responsible for the mass mortalities, a tragedy that resulted in the loss of nearly half of the world's population of saigas in a short time.
The Frankfurt Zoological Society plays an indispensable role in protecting the animals. Steffen Zuther said: "The death of so many saigas last year in such a violent manner brought tears to all of our eyes." Whether the bacteria will return and create another die-off was one of the central questions the expedition sought to answer. "Only when we have a large population of saigas over the long run can the species survive."
Internet documentary in three languages
In the steppe, a territory the size of France, the animals were nowhere to be seen for the first few days. Those who view the multimedia report "Saigas in distress" will follow the researchers along and watch how, at the last minute, they tracked down the antelopes with their newborn calves. The documentary is available in German, Spanish and English on the website of DW's "Global Ideas."
"Global Ideas" is an award-winning environmental series by Deutsche Welle showcasing exemplary projects aimed at the protection of biodiversity. The program is supported by the German Federal Environment Agency under the International Climate Protection Initiative (IKI).