More than 350 elephants died mysteriously in a mass ‘die-off’ clustered around water holes in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Scientists described it as a “conservation disaster”.
The tourism ministry said in a statement they are ruling out poaching because the animals’ tusks were not missing.
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In October 2019, the country reported more than 100 elephants that died from a suspected anthrax outbreak. Botswana’s government has been ruled out Anthrax.
Local residents had said seeing some elephants walking in circles suggesting they have been neurologically impaired either by a pathogen or a poison.
The bodies have not yet tested for traces of poison or pathogens, or whether they could pose a risk to human health.
According to the tourism ministry, 12 elephants died in May, with another 169 dead by the end of the month. The number has reached more than 350 dead elephants by mid-June, with 70 percent of them died clustered around waterholes.
“If you look at the carcasses, some of them have fallen straight on their face, indicating they died very quickly. Others are obviously dying more slowly, like the ones that are wandering around. So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” Dr. Niall McCann, director of conservation at charity National Park Rescue told The Guardian.
“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” McCann told the Guardian.
Botswana, located in Southern African, boasts the world’s largest elephant population between 80,000 to 130,000 animals.