Botswana investigates 'mysterious deaths' of 275 elephants

Aug. 19 2016 a herd of elephants swim and drink water in the Kruger National Park South Africa. South Africa's parks service stopped culling elephants to reduce overpopulation in 1994 partly because due to public

Mystery has surrounded the death of elephants in Botswana in the past two months.

Mr Nawa said issues of human/wildlife conflict were rife in the Ngamiland region and stated that his organisation was established to ensure harmony between elephants and the people. "Elephant carcasses also occurred along trails and died in a sternal position on their chests, suggesting a fast and sudden death".

The BBC News is reporting that a doctor and his colleagues in the southern African country of Botswana have found more than 350 elephant carcasses since the beginning of May.

Botswana tourism ministry confirmed the first dozen deaths in early May, and upwards of 200 elephants perished by mid-June, with 70% of carcasses clustered around waterholes, The Guardian cited local sources as saying. While elephant numbers have widely declined in recent decades, largely due to poaching, Botswana's population has grown. Now a lack of flights is delaying the distribution of samples to labs around the world, Botswana's government says, while those labs struggle with testing backlogs and logistics.

There's no exact number of elephants that have dropped that, but forest officials say they have spotted more than 350 elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta since the start of May. Decades of poaching and conflict have already left Africa's elephant population vulnerable and declining.

Observers said that the live elephants seen nearby seemed physically weak and someone was walking around, unable to change direction.

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Botswana is property to 130,000 African elephants - much more than any other place on the continent.

Some of the animals were spotted walking in circles, a sign of neurological impairment.

He said they also embarked on conservation education and awareness walks in the jungle to encourage communities to become ambassadors of their environment and to understand the behaviour of animals, especially elephants, which caused havoc in the ploughing fields. To date, it's thought that the death toll stands at almost 400 elephants of both sexes and all ages.

Poaching has been ruled out as a cause, as the ivory has not been removed from the elephants.

Question over these deaths remain unanswered several days after the publication of a report by the NGO Elephants Without Borders and its confirmation by Director of National Parks and Wildlife.

Chris Thouless, head of research at Save the Elephants, said mass elephant deaths on this scale were nearly unprecedented, save during droughts. "We then sent samples to Zimbabwe and South Africa to test for other known pathogens or a novel pathogen", he said.

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