Botswana has hundreds of elephants that have inexplicably been found dead on its territory in recent months. On Thursday, the Government of the African country confirmed the number of 275 lifeless specimens, when just two weeks ago the balance was 154. The first bodies were found months ago in the Okavango Panhandle region, in the north of the country, and in that moment the official investigations began, the Executive has pointed out, to find out the cause.
The authorities rule out that poaching is the cause of the deaths, because the bodies have appeared without signs of bullets. “We have located three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada to analyze samples taken from dead elephants,” said the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Conservation.
The NGO Elephants Without Borders (EWB) has also reported the deaths. Using aerial images they have verified that there are elephants of all ages dying. “Several live animals we have observed exhibited an aspect of weakness, lethargy and weakness. Some appeared disoriented, walked with difficulty and showed signs of partial paralysis or lameness,” said EWB Director Mike Chase in a report consulted by Reuters. The NGO calculates that 70% of the corpses are of dead specimens in the last month. Many appeared to have died “very suddenly,” the expert told AFP, and others fell to the ground on their sternums as they walked, “something very rare,” he added.
“We observed an elephant walking in circles, unable to change direction despite being pushed by other members of its herd,” says the report, which brings the total number of animals killed to 356 and urges clarification on whether the cause of mortality is a disease or poisoning. Authorities received that report and have so far confirmed the deaths of 275 specimens, Botswana director of national parks Cyril Taolo said. “The cause of death is yet to be determined. Anthrax (or anthrax) are ruled out. We also do not suspect [fang] smugglers because the animals have appeared with their defenses,” he clarified.
The elephant population in Africa is declining, mainly due to poaching, although Botswana is precisely an exception. It welcomes a third of all the elephants on the continent and its population has grown to 130,000 copies, from the 80,000 that it counted in the late 1990s. However, animals represent a nuisance to some farmers’ crops.
In May 2019, the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, eliminated the ban on practicing big game that had been in force for five years, although this 2020 season, which was scheduled to start last April, could not start by restrictions on international travel by restrictions on international travel by the coronavirus health crisis.