More than 350 elephants have mysteriously died in northern Botswana over the past two months, which scientists have described as a “catastrophe”, according to US news network ABC News.
The death of elephants is a great loss and a blow to the tourism sector in Botswana, where many people rely heavily on tourism within the bush and forests on the back of elephants.
“This is the biggest catastrophe for elephants in a very long time,” said Niall McCann, co-founder of the UK-based National Park Rescue Foundation.
McCain told ABC News, “Unlike droughts in the 1970s, I don’t know of any elephants that died before.”
“We have verified so far of 275 bodies from 356 that have been reported in the area north of the Okavango Delta,” said Madadi Robin, chief veterinarian of the Wildlife Administration and National Parks in Botswana.
Robin added to the American news network that the killer might be a mysterious new disease or a deadly poison, but he ruled out poaching, as the bodies were found intact.
“Three laboratories have been identified in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada to treat samples from dead elephants,” the Botswana Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources said in a statement last Thursday.
“Robin corpses, soil and water samples, as well as samples of living animals, were sent to regional and external laboratories,” Rubin added, “We are waiting for the results and we are continuing to investigate.”
Most elephant bodies have been found gathered around water sources near the Okavango Delta, in normal times, a major tourist safari destination.