At least 275 elephants died in mysterious conditions in the Okavango delta (north) in Botswana, a region popular with tourists, authorities said Thursday.

"We have received a report on the deaths of 356 elephants in the northern Okavango Delta, and so far we have confirmed the deaths of 275 pachyderms ," Botswana director of National Parks and Wildlife, Cyril Taolo, told AFP.

"The cause of his death is being determined. Anthrax [or charcoal disease] is excluded. Poachers are also not suspected, since the animals were found with their tusks, " he said.

The environment ministry clarified that samples of the animal's remains were being analyzed in three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada.

Weak and disoriented elephants

According to a report by the NGO Elephants Without Borders (EWB) of June 19, 2020, broadcast to the press on Wednesday, 356 elephants were found dead in the Okavango Delta.

EWB estimates that the death of about 70% of them dates back "to about a month, while the death of the remaining 30% seems more recent , between one day and two weeks."

Several live elephants were observed "very weak, lethargic, some disoriented and some having difficulty moving" , added the director of the oenegé Michael Chase. "Men and women of all ages seem to be concerned about this mysterious illness . "

Pachyderms appear to have "died suddenly in some cases," said biologist Keith Lindsay, a specialist in wildlife preservation.

"The remains that we are analyzing are from elephants that fell on their sternum while they were walking , which is very unusual," he told AFP.

Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants released, one third of the total pachyderm population in Africa.

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