Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, said the head of the wildlife department on Thursday, ruling out poaching as the tusks on the elephants were found intact.
“We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta and we have confirmed 275 so far,” Cyril Taolo, the acting director of the department of Wildlife and National Parks, told AFP.
He stated that the cause of the deaths was yet to be established ruling out anthrax as a reason for the mysterious deaths.
However, samples have been collected and sent to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada for testing.
Similar deaths were reported in May where authorities found 12 carcasses in just a week in two villages in the northwest of the country.
The latest discoveries were flagged by a wildlife conservation charity, Elephants Without Borders (EWB), whose confidential report referring to the 356 dead elephants, was leaked to the media on Wednesday.
The charity suspects the elephants have been dying in the area for about three months.
70 percent of elephants carcasses were considered recent, having died a month ago, and 30 percent of the carcasses appeared fresh, ranging from one day to two weeks old, according to the report dated June 19, 2020.
“There was good evidence to show elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying,” said the report penned by EWB director Mike Chase.
EWB said that several live elephants appeared to have been weak, lethargic and emaciated with some showing signs of disorientation, difficulty in walking or limping.
According to the report, “one elephants was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members.”