Scientists called the incident an environmental disaster, and an unknown pathogen was considered a possible cause of death.
More than 350 elephants died in northern Botswana for unknown reasons – scientists called the situation an environmental disaster. The government is trying to find out the reasons for the mass extinction. It is reported by The Guardian.
The first deaths of elephants were recorded in the Okavango Delta in early May. By the end of the month, 169 dead animals became known, and by mid-June this number had doubled. Sources of the publication noted that 70% of dead elephants were found near water bodies.
Niall McCann, director of nature conservation at the British National Park Saving Charity, noted that “such a mass extinction of elephants has not been observed for a very, very long time.”
The government of Botswana has not yet completed a study on the analysis of dead animals. Scientists put forward two versions of what happened – an unknown pathogen or poisoning. Poachers often poison animals with cyanide – but scavengers who eat bodies do not die. Anthrax, which was initially considered the most likely cause, was ruled out. Covid-19 was initially considered a possible cause, but considered unlikely.
McCann was surprised that the government still hasn’t sent samples to the research laboratory, because at the time of the mass extinction of elephants near people’s homes, local people are worried about possible diseases. “The authorities do not show due haste. Private organizations have already offered their help, but did not find support, ”said McCann.
Local residents noted that they saw elephants walking in circles – this indicates a kind of neurological disorder. Animals of different ages and different sexes die. A few more elephants were noticed weak and exhausted – they are likely to die in the near future. Scientists believe that the real number of deaths is probably even greater, since it is difficult to find the bodies of dead animals.
About 15 thousand elephants live in the Okavango Delta – this is 10% of the entire population in Botswana. “Elephants are the country’s assets. An environmental disaster happened – it says that the country cannot protect its most valuable resource, ”says McCann.