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Mysterious Death of Hundreds of Elephants in Botswana

Photo credit to newssky | theconversation | businessinsider

Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta, and Department of Wildlife do not suspect poaching as the elephants are found death with tusks.

Credit : Reuters

The landlocked southern African country has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000, reported by Al-jazeera.

According to Cyril Taolo, acting director of the department of Wildlife and National Parks, they had a report of 356 dead elephants in the north of Okavango Delta. The cause of the deaths was still under investigation, but he ruled out the possibility of Anthrax – a infectious disease and poaching since the animals were found with tusks.

Similar deaths were first reported in May when authorities found 12 carcasses in just a week in two villages and the conservation biologist, Keith Lindsay said, “It seems they were dying very suddenly in some cases”.

Credit : Reuters

Lindsay also added that the carcases were animals that had fallen down while walking, right on their sternum is very unusual.

“Up to now there doesn’t seem to be any clear sign of the reason for it. When something like this happens it is alarming.”

A wildlife conservation charity, Elephants Without Borders (EWB), suspects the elephants have been dying in the area for about 3 months.

Credit : Reuters

According to the report dated June 19, 2020, “70 percent of elephant carcasses were considered recent, having died about a month ago, and 30 percent of the carcasses appeared fresh, ranging from one day to two weeks old”.

EWB director Mike Chase penned a few points on the report:

  • There was good evidence to show elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying
  • Several live elephants appeared to have been weak, lethargic and emaciated, with some showing signs of disorientation, difficulty in walking or limping
  • One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members
Credit : Reuters

For conservationist Neil Fritt the strange phenomenon is “tragic” but appears to be “more like a natural occurrence as opposed to direct human cause”.

However, samples have been collected and sent to specialised laboratories in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada for testing. Hopefully, soon we will know what is the cause of the death.

RIP, Mr. Elephants!