Our (MacPhee and Preston Marx) hypothesis gained some credence from well examined instances of widespread population collapses due to disease in the modern era, such as the rinderpest epizootic in eastern Africa in the 1890s, which attacked most of the region’s native even-toed ungulates and caused appalling mortality. Some species were very seriously affected, with one subspecies of hartebeest disappearing in the early twentieth century in possible correlation with the disease’s outbreak. A more recent example of a disease-induced disaster was the die-off of more than 80 percent of the central Asiatic wild herd of saiga antelope (Saiga tartarica …) in 2015-2016 from hemorrhagic septicemia, or blood poisoning due to bacterial infection. There are still other examples of almost unbelievable mortality in wild animals within breathtakingly short intervals, all of which underlines the fact that there is really nothing in ordinary nature that can bring down the standing crop of a species as quickly as emerging infectious diseases.

Ross D. E. MacPhee, End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals (2018), pp. 181-182