Explanation for the Sudden Deaths of 330 Elephants in Botswana
Scientists have found explanation behind sudden deaths of over 330 elephants in Botswana.
According to BBC News the alarm was raised when elephant corpses were spotted in the country’s Okavango Delta between May and June. Conservationists spotted hundreds of elephant corpses in a three- hour flight during an aerial surveys.
There have been speculations over the cause of these deaths from poaching to anthrax to poisoning. However, now the actual cause has been pointed out, said to be toxic blooms of cyanobacteria.
According to Mmadi Reuben, a principal veterinary officer at the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, this is a naturally occurring neurotoxin and biological phenomenon which has increased due to climate change.
Following tests conducted for months in specialist laboratories in Canada, South Africa, and Zimbabwe and in the US.
Scientists confirm that these bacteria are found in water and that toxic blooms favours warm water. Wildlife authorities say they were hesitant to believe that the bacteria were the cause of death until now, because toxic blooms are found in the edges of the waterholes and elephants tend to drink from the middle of the wells.
World Health Organisation (WHO) says cyanobacteria is also known as blue-green algae, found worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters. Other species of the bacteria produce toxins that affect animals and humans.
Reuben told the press that the deaths of the deaths stopped towards the end of June 2020 coinciding with drying of water wells. He then emphasized that the investigations would continue because it is important finding out why this happened, so that it will be easy to stop it from happening again.
“We have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only. We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating.” Reuben added.