In Botswana, southern Africa, several hundred dead elephants have been found over the past two months. Disease or poisoning is suspected as a sudden increase in mortality.
British ecologist Dr Niall McCann of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue has stated that colleagues in the southern African country had spotted more than 350 elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta since the start of May. No one knows why the animals are dying, with lab results on samples still weeks away, according to the government.
“They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight. To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary. A month later, further investigations identified many more carcasses, bringing the total to over 350. (..) This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought,” the ecologist added.
Conservationists have been unable to rule out either poisoning or disease as a cause of death. The way the animals appear to be dying – many dropping on their faces – and sightings of other elephants walking in circles points to something potentially attacking their neurological systems, Dr McCann noted.