Botswana reports mysterious deaths of hundreds of elephants
July 6, 2020 - Hundreds of elephants have reportedly died mysteriously since May in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The country has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated at 130,000.
Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks said it is mobilising human personnel and aircraft to better understand the “mysterious deaths.” Samples have been collected for analysis at labs in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada and anthrax has been ruled out as the cause.
Poaching remains a threat in the country but also has been ruled out as the cause of the deaths.
This is “one of the biggest disasters to impact elephants this century, and right in the middle of one of Africa’s top tourism destinations,” the director of conservation group National Park Rescue, Mark Hiley, said in an email.
“Elephants began dying in huge numbers in early May and the government would normally respond within days to an event of this scale. Yet here we are, months later, with no testing completed and with no more information than we had at the start.”
He said Covid-19 is an unlikely candidate but for now nothing, including poison, can be ruled out.