On Thursday, the head of the wildlife department of Okavango Delta in Botswana has confirmed the mysterious death of nearly 350 elephants in just two months span.
Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world with an estimate of 1,30,451 given by the Great Elephant Census (GEC). Unfortunately, Botswana is also home to third place in Africa’s declining elephant population.
The reason for the deaths stands unclear as of now. Botswana’s government has ruled out any poachers activity for the deaths. The samples have been sent for testing to different countries like Canada and Zimbabwe apart from South Africa. However, Anthrax has been also ruled out for the cause of deaths. So, the lab test reports will make the picture clear for these deaths.
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The acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Dr Cyril Taolo stated
We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta and we have confirmed 275 so far,
We do not suspect poaching since (the) animals were found with tusks,
We have sent [samples] off for testing and we are expecting the results over the next couple of weeks or so,
According to Elephants Without Borders (EWB) director Mike Chase,
There was good evidence to show elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying,
One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members,
He further added that
Of the 18 countries that we flew over, the GEC estimated 3,50,000 savannah elephants,
Since 2007 Africa has lost 1,44,000 elephants, primarily due to the ivory poaching crisis. Each year we are losing nearly 30,000 elephants.
UK-based charity National Park Rescue member Dr McCann said
This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought,
It is only elephants that are dying and nothing else,
If it was cyanide used by poachers, you would expect to see other deaths.
Yes, it is a conservation disaster – but it also has the potential to be a public health crisis,
Also, Dr McCann has expressed doubt that hints to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the elephants are dying on a large scale worldwide and this is an irrecoverable loss to mankind.