A herd of elephants walk through the bush near Seronga, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Picture: Reuters
A herd of elephants walk through the bush near Seronga, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Picture: Reuters

Poisoning not ruled out in death of hundreds of Botswana elephants

By Xinhua Time of article published Aug 8, 2020

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Gabarone - Botswana's Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has ruled out commonly used agro-chemicals or pesticides as the cause of death for the 281 elephants that died mysteriously since March 2020.

The deaths were recorded in areas around Seronga, North West part of the country. A press released on Friday from the ministry stated that toxicological analysis of nine pesticides and chemicals commonly implicated in wildlife poisoning have tested negative.

"Encephalomyocarditis virus, an acute viral disease characterized by inflammation and degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle and lesions of the central nervous system, has also been eliminated as the cause of mortality," said the statement which further stated that clinical data and laboratory results received so far showed that infectious pathogens are unlikely to be the cause of death.

Two suspected mineral elements and starvation have also been ruled out as potential causes of death.

A combination photo shows dead elephants in Okavango Delta, Botswana May-June, 2020. Picture: Handout via Reuters

The statement said that results received so far do not eliminate poisoning and therefore, environmental factors including naturally occurring toxins are still being investigated.

No new mortalities have been recorded and the ministry awaits further results.

Tests were done in Botswana, South Africa, the US and Zimbabwe.

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