Tragedy In Botswana As Mass Unexplained Deaths Of 350 Elephants Has Conservationists Baffled

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Tragedy In Botswana As Mass Unexplained Deaths Of 350 Elephants Has Conservationists Baffled

Aerial images of some of the elephant carcasses seen in the Okavango Delta, photo credits: The Guardian


More than 350 elephants have been found dead in a mass die off in the African nation of Botswana, in what is being described by conservationists as a 'disaster'. There is as of yet absolutely no explanation as to what has caused their deaths, with elephants of all ages and genders found among the dead.


It is believed that around 170 of the elephants died by the end of May, with around another 200 dying off in June. Around 70% of the deaths were reported around watering-holes, where the elephants gather to drink.


Some local witnesses report seeing elephants walking around in circles and acting bizarrely, which could indicate neurological impairment. Theories as to what has caused the deaths range from deliberate poisoning, to an outbreak of disease, though some are suggesting that the watering hole itself may be responsible. On rare occasions, watering holes can release toxic gases into the air, causing animals to die in mass die-offs. Although rare, these incidents have been reported across Africa from time to time.


While many thought cyanide poisoning may be the cause of death as farmers will often try to poison elephants to stop them damaging their crops, this theory has been largely dismissed as none of the animals feeding on the dead bodies have also become ill.


Dr. Niall McCann, the director of conservation with the National Park Rescue charity, stated his sorrow at learning of the mass deaths:


"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."


He also added his fears that not enough was being done to investigate the cause of deaths and thereby mitigate possible ongoing dangers. He said:


"When we've got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone's minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab."


These thoughts were echoed by Mary Rice, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency in London:


"There is real concern regarding the delay in getting the samples to an accredited laboratory for testing in order to identify the problem – and then take measures to mitigate it. The lack of urgency is of real concern and does not reflect the actions of a responsible custodian. There have been repeated offers of help from private stakeholders to facilitate urgent testing which appear to have fallen on deaf ears … and the increasing numbers are, frankly, shocking."


It is understood that Botswanan scientists have now begun an investigation. It is not believed that CoVid-19 is in any way responsible for the deaths of the elephants.


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Thinking Humanity: Tragedy In Botswana As Mass Unexplained Deaths Of 350 Elephants Has Conservationists Baffled
Tragedy In Botswana As Mass Unexplained Deaths Of 350 Elephants Has Conservationists Baffled
More than 350 elephants have been found dead in a mass die off in the African nation of Botswana, in what is being described by conservationists as a 'disaster'. There is as of yet absolutely no explanation as to what has caused their deaths, with elephants of all ages and genders found among the dead. It is believed that around 170 of the elephants died by the end of May, with around another 200 dying off in June. Around 70% of the deaths were reported around watering-holes, where the elephants gather to drink.
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