Mass Elephant Deaths In Botswana (2020)

maximus otter

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Anthrax and poisoning have been ruled out as the cause of a rising number of unexplained elephant deaths in Botswana, the country with the world’s biggest population of the animals.



Wildlife authorities have now discovered 110 carcasses in north west Botswana, up from the 56 announced earlier in May according to a government statement.

“I would say 90% of the new cases we have found are old carcasses we previously did not locate,” said Dimakatso Ntshebe, a regional wildlife director, in an interview. “However, a few are indeed new deaths. All recovered carcasses do not show signs of poaching.”

Elephants have become a political issue in the southern African nation, with President Mokgweetsi Masisi last year lifting a hunting ban and saying more needed to be done to stop the 135,000 elephants in the country from damaging crops and occasionally trampling villagers.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/mass-elephant-deaths-anthrax-poison-161758435.html

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michael59

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At the bottom of the article is says that Botswana was auctioning off permits to hunt elephants.
 

Xanatic*

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Yes, they money from that can be used for other conservation efforts.
 

Sid

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Yes, they money from that can be used for other conservation efforts.
So, paying big money for the privilege of shooting an animal probably to mount it on a wall is justified because it saves an animal... really????
 

Coypu

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A bit like Fighting for peace is like F/ing for virginity..:dunno:
 

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It's more like selling one child into slavery to feed the other seven.
 
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EnolaGaia

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This 1 July Guardian article provides a snapshot of the situation a month after the mass die-off was first reported here.
Hundreds of elephants dead in mysterious mass die-off

Botswana’s government is yet to test the remains of the dead animals in what has been described as a ‘conservation disaster’

More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”.

A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 individuals dead by the end of the month. By mid June, the number had more than doubled, with 70% of the deaths clustered around waterholes, according to local sources who wish to remain anonymous.

“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” said Dr Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue.

The Botswana government has not yet tested samples so there is no information on what is causing the deaths or whether they could pose a risk to human health. The two main possibilities are poisoning or an unknown pathogen. Anthrax – initially considered the most likely cause – has been ruled out. ...

Local witnesses say some elephants were seen walking around in circles, which is an indication of neurological impairment. “If you look at the carcasses, some of them have fallen straight on their face, indicating they died very quickly. Others are obviously dying more slowly, like the ones that are wandering around. So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” said McCann. ...

Cyanide poisoning – often used by poachers in Zimbabwe – remains a possibility, but scavenging animals do not seem to be dying at the carcasses. ...

The tusks of deceased elephants have not been removed and conservationists have urged authorities to guard the carcasses so that poachers do not take them. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.theguardian.com/environ...-dead-in-mysterious-mass-die-off-botswana-aoe
 

EnolaGaia

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This more recent Live Science article provides some additional details and updates to the article from last week ...
350 elephants drop dead in Botswana, some walking in circles before doing face-plants

... A flight over the delta in May by researchers with Elephants Without Borders, a wildlife conservation organization, first spotted 169 carcasses; that number jumped to 356 in June, when the conservationists took another flight over the area.

Botswana's Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation, and Tourism has verified 275 of those elephant carcasses ...

The mass die-off could be explained by either a poison or some as-yet unknown pathogen, according to The Guardian. Already, officials have ruled out anthrax, the carcasses tested negative for that bacterium ...

This isn't the first elephant die-off in the region; more than 100 elephants died over a two-month period in the fall of 2019 in Botswana's Chobe National Park, primarily driven by drought. Some of those deaths may have been due to anthrax, as the elephants would have ingested soil (possibly contaminated with anthrax spores) while grazing around dried-up watering holes and across wilted grasslands ...

Another idea, though unlikely, is cyanide, which poachers often use to poison elephants. However, in the case of cyanide poisoning, the elephants are generally clustered in one area where the poison was deployed, and other animals scavenging on their carcasses also show up dead ... This hasn't been the case in Botswana. ...

Rather than foul play, the elephants might have died from a natural culprit, said Chris Thouless, the head of research at the conservation organization Save the Elephants, which is based in Kenya, The New York Times reported. Thouless suggested the viral disease encephalomyocarditis, which is transmitted by rodents, could be to blame. The disease causes neurological impairment and is known to have killed 60 elephants in South Africa's Kruger National Park in the mid-1990s, according to a report published in 1995 ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/elephant-mass-deaths-botswana.html
 

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EnolaGaia

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Here's an update. Preliminary investigations and lab results have confirmed at least 281 elephant deaths, rules out poaching as the cause, and are coalescing around natural toxins as the most likely explanation.
Mysterious Cause of Hundreds of Elephant Deaths in Botswana Finally Comes Into Focus

Hundreds of elephants that died mysteriously in Botswana's famed Okavango Delta probably succumbed to natural toxins, the wildlife department said Friday.

The landlocked southern African country has the world's largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000. Around 300 of them have been found dying since March.

Authorities have so far ruled out anthrax, as well as poaching, as the tusks were found intact.

Preliminary tests conducted in various countries far have not been fully conclusive and more are being carried out, Wildlife and Parks Department boss Cyril Taolo told AFP in a phone interview.

"But based on some of the preliminary results that we have received, we are looking at naturally-occurring toxins as the potential cause," he said.

"To date we have not established the conclusion as to what is the cause of the mortality" ...

Tests are being conducted at specialist labs in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the US.
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/myster...t-deaths-in-botswana-finally-comes-into-focus
 

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Update on cause of deaths.

The sudden deaths of some 330 elephants in northwestern Botswana earlier this year may have occurred because they drank water contaminated by toxic blue-green algae, the country’s government has announced.

The elephants in the Seronga area died from a neurological disorder that appears to have been caused by drinking water tainted by “a toxic bloom of cyanobacterium in seasonal pans (water sources) in the region”, said Cyril Taolo, acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The unexplained deaths ceased after the water pans dried up, said Mr Taolo, in a press conference in Gaborone, the capital.

No other wildlife species were affected by the toxic water in the Seronga area, close to Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta, said Mr Taolo.

Even scavengers, like hyenas and vultures, observed feeding on the elephant carcasses showed no signs of illness, he said. ...

https://www.irishexaminer.com/world/arid-40052426.html
 
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