An elephant roams the water at the Chobe National Park in Botswana. Photo: Chobe National Park
An elephant roams the water at the Chobe National Park in Botswana. Photo: Chobe National Park

Botswana probes mysterious death of 56 elephants

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 20, 2020

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RUSTENBURG - Botswana is probing the mysterious death of 56 elephants, over the space of two months, after poaching was ruled out as a possibility.  

According to the country's ministry of environment, natural resources, conservation and tourism, the elephants died in the north-west areas of Seronga and Eretsha, close to the renowned Okavango Delta.

"A total of 12 (dead) elephants were recorded last week compared with 44 that were registered on March 18, 2020. Consequently, preliminary investigations regarding the cause of death are currently ongoing, whilst surveillance operation are underway to trace any other dead elephants," said the ministry via a statement. 

"So far, veterinary officers have ruled our the possibility of poaching because all of the carcasses... were found intact," the statement read.

Locals have been instructed not to eat the meat from the remains. 

International media reported that, in October 2019, Botswana recorded more than 100 elephants dying from a suspected anthrax outbreak. The bacteria can live dormant in soil or plants for years. 

After being ingested or inhaled by an animal, the cells become active and start reproducing, producing toxins that can be fatal. 

Conservation group, Elephants Without Borders, warned last year of surging elephant poaching in parts of Botswana, estimating that nearly 400 of the creatures were killed across the country in 2017 and 2018.

In February this year, the government auctioned off seven elephant hunting licences after controversially lifting a hunting ban, saying the move would not threaten the elephant population.

Botswana's hunting season was supposed to open in April, but was temporarily suspended because of the coronavirus. 

African News Agency

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