Mass elephant deaths in Botswana's Okavango Delta region baffle scientists; no sign of poaching

A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 animals found dead. By mid-June, the number had more than doubled, with 70 percent of the deaths happening around water holes

FP Trending July 02, 2020 17:20:53 IST
Mass elephant deaths in Botswana's Okavango Delta region baffle scientists; no sign of poaching

Around 350 elephant carcasses that were discovered during aerial surveys of Botswana's Okabango Delta region since the beginning of May have left scientists baffled.

As per a report in NDTV, the carcasses that are strewn around the northwest part of the African nation show no signs or injuries indicative of poaching.

The report cited news agency Reuters in saying that, investigations have also ruled out poisoning by humans and anthrax.

According to The Guardian, a cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 animals found dead. By mid-June, the number had more than doubled, with 70 percent of the deaths happening around water holes.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue said that this kind of a mass die-off has not been seen in a very long time outside of a drought.

The report added that the Botswana government has not yet tested samples so there is no way of knowing what is causing the deaths of the animals or whether it could pose a risk to human health.

According to a report in the BBC, many of the animals have died by simply dropping on their faces while eye witnesses have said that sometimes they are seen walking around in circles, indicative of some neurological issue.

The report cites Dr MCCann as saying that without knowing the source, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of the disease entering the human population.

According to a report in Science Alert, till recently, Botswana had been one of the safest countries for elephants, but in 2019, scientists reported a surge in elephant poaching. Last year, the government in Botswana lifted the ban on elephant poaching citing increasing human-elephant conflict as the reason.

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