The government of Botswana remains baffled by the continual strange death of hundreds of its elephants, as the cause of death remains a mystery.
Most of the elephants which die normally succumb to poaching, poisoning and anthrax, but the recent deaths have been attributed to an unknown cause.
So far the government has made further attempts to find the cause by sending samples to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Great Britain and the United States to diagnose the deadly cause. Botswana’s National Veterinary Laboratory has not been able to establish the causes of death despite examining 281 dead elephants.
Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Oduetse Koboto, said all they can do now is to remove ivory from the carrions and destroy the dead elephants.
“While there has not been any indication of fresh carcasses or signs that the mortality has spread beyond the initial area of concern, the district team on the ground will continue to monitor the situation, remove ivory from carcasses and take them to safe custody as well as destroy carcasses that are close to the villages and human settlements,” said Koboto.
Director of conservation group National Park Rescue, Mark Hiley, noted that the recent death of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, is one of the first kind of disasters that Botswana has experienced in the wildlife arena.
“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,” said Hiley.
The dying elephants in Botswana live in a roughly thousand-square-mile tract in a remote area northeast of the Okavango Delta, which has an estimated 18,000 elephants, 16,000 people, and 18,000 cattle.
According to veterinarians and wildlife experts the possible causes of death encompasses ingestion of toxic bacteria in water, anthrax poisoning, poisoning by humans, viral infection from rodents, or a pathogenic microbe.
The African elephant has the largest brain in the animal kingdom, which weights up to 5kg, while the weight of its whole body is about 6000kg. Asian elephants weigh about 5400kg.
Once all the investigations that are being conducted in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Britain and the United State and other sub Saharan countries have been concluded and delivered to Botswana, the authorities will make a public announcement regarding the investigation findings.`
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent