Hundreds of elephants mysteriously die in Africa: scientists do not exclude danger to people
The "absolutely unprecedented" death of elephants in Botswana over the past two months is shrouded in mystery, writes Air force.
Dr. Niall McKenn of the National Park Rescue charity said colleagues in the South African nation have captured over 350 dead elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta through aerial photography since early May.
No one knows why animals die, and the results of laboratory tests have to wait a few more weeks.
Botswana has a third of the elephant population in Africa.
Dr. Mackenn told the BBC that local environmentalists first warned the government about dead animals in early May, after flying over the Okavango Delta.
“They spotted 169 elephants during the three-hour flight,” he said.
“A month later, further investigation revealed many more carcasses, bringing the total to more than 350. This is absolutely unprecedented in the number of elephants killed in a single event not related to drought,” he added.
In May, the government of Botswana ruled out poaching as the cause of mass death, because the animal tusks remained in place, Phys.org reports.
There are other things that point to something other than poaching.
“Only elephants die and nobody else,” said Dr. McKenn. "If it was cyanide used by poachers, you would see other deaths."
Dr. Mackenn also previously ruled out death as a result of anthrax, which killed at least 100 elephants last year in Botswana.
However, scientists cannot rule out death due to poisoning or illness. Before the death of the animal, they mostly fell on the face, walked in a circle. According to Mr. Mannequin, something attacked their nervous system.
One way or another, without knowing the source, it is impossible to exclude the possibility of transmission of the disease to people - especially if the cause is in water sources or soil. Dr. McKenn recalls the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to have started from animal transmission of the coronavirus.
“Yes, this is an environmental disaster, but it also has the potential to be a health crisis,” he said.
Dr. Cyril Taolu, Acting Director of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told the Guardian that the death of at least 280 elephants has already been confirmed, and there is a process to confirm the deaths of the rest.
However, officials do not know what caused the death of animals.
“We have sent [samples] for testing, awaiting results within the next two weeks,” said Dr. McKenn.
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