Epidemic feared in 350 elephant deaths

Around 350 elephants have died in Northern Botswana over the last two months. This mystifying mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”. The elephants have died since last May, said a BBC report.

The head of the wildlife department said, “This was not a case of poaching as the tusks were found intact.”

This southern African region has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000. It is also known as a third of Africa’s declining elephant population.

“We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta and we have confirmed 275 so far,” Cyril Taolo, Acting Director, Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

Samples have been collected and sent to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Canada for testing. Results are expected to arrive over the next couple of weeks or so.

Dr. McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, apprised the BBC local conservationists first alerted the government in early May after they undertook a flight over the delta.

“They calculated 169 in a three-hour flight,” he said. “To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight were extraordinary.

“A month later, further inspections identified many more corpse, bringing the total to over 350. This is totally unusual in terms of numbers of wild elephants dying in a single event unrelated to natural hazards” he added.

“There was plausible evidence to depict elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying,” said the report penned by elephants Without Borders (EWB) director Mike Chase.

“Many live elephants spotted were weak, lethargic, and emaciated, with some showing signs of bewilderment, difficulty in traipsing, or limping,” EWB further added.