Hundreds of Elephants Mysteriously Dead in Botswana

Elephants in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where hundreds of pachyderms have been found dead. AFP Photo / Monrul Bhuiyan

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About 300 elephants have mysteriously died in a Botswana park since the start of May. Surprising deaths, because it is a large number in a restricted area.


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According to the management of Botswana national parks and wildlife, several hundred pachyderms have died since May in the north of the country in the Okavango Delta. The park authorities have excluded poaching, the animals found having preserved their defenses, as well as anthrax, a bacterium linked to the putrefaction of bodies in nature.

For the NGO Elephants without borders, these deaths are mysterious because many pachyderms were lying on the torso, as if they had fallen forward, and died suddenly.

Suspected poisoning 

Curator Pieter Kat is categorical: it is not a disease: "  When elephants die from a disease, we see, they are weak, they lose weight, they have signs that show that they are not going not good. But there, they were elephants in great shape, which suddenly collapsed and died. In addition, if it were a disease, it would not happen in such a small area, a disease would spread in the region. "

He and other conservatives favor the thesis of poisoning: "  We have also seen that some of these elephants were not walking properly, they were going around in circles, and seemed to have trouble using their rear limbs. To me, all of this strongly resembles a poison that would affect their nervous system and their brain. "

Especially since the coexistence between these pachyderms and the local population is tense. The latter accuse the elephants of destroying their cultures. Authorities say there are overcrowded animals in the country and are calling for control of the number of elephants. Caught between Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, Botswana is home to around 130,000 free-ranging elephants, one third of their known African population.

►Read also: In Botswana, the auction of elephant hunting licenses is controversial

According to the national parks authority, samples have been sent to laboratories in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada for analysis.

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  • Botswana
  • Wildlife
  • Environment

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