Since the start of May, more than 350 elephant carcasses was found in the Okavango Delta in the southern African country, and experts do not know why they died.
Dr. Niall McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, told BBC in an interview that his colleagues and local conservationists first alerted the government about the unprecedented deaths of the elephants as early as May.
“They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight,” he told BBC. “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,” he added.
Botswana’s government ruled out poaching as a reason for the death, noting that the elephants’ tusks were not removed, according to a report by Phys.org.
“It is only elephants that are dying and nothing else,” Dr. McCann said. “If it was cyanide used by poachers, you would expect to see other deaths.”
Many elephants that died appeared to have dropped on their faces. Dr. McCann explained that they also sighted other elephants walking in circles, which may mean something is potentially attacking their neurological systems.
They have not yet ruled out poisoning and diseases as Dr. McCann pointed to the Covid-19 pandemic that is believed to have started with animals.
“Yes, it is a conservation disaster – but it also has the potential to be a public health crisis,” he said.
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