Sunday, June 23, 2024

Botswana blames mysterious elephant deaths on cyanobacteria

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Botswana wildlife officials have revealed that cyanobacteria caused a spate of mysterious elephant deaths this year.

The deaths of hundreds of elephants sparked concerns among conservationists.

But deputy director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Cyril Taolo told journalists that cyanobacteria was the cause of the calamity.

He also revealed that the number of dead elephants had risen to 330 from 281 which was last reported in July.

Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population. Zimbabwe and Botswana have the world’s combined largest elephant population at more than 200,000 animals.

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Conservationists say the number of wild, African elephants has dropped by almost a third in the last decade due to drought, loss of habitat, and poaching.

But at the time of the mysterious deaths of the elephants in Botswana, experts said there were no signs of poaching or predators.

Most of the blood samples sent abroad for testing at the time indicated that there a toxin caused the deaths.

Botswana’s Ministry of Wildlife and Environment Permanent Secretary Oduetse Koboto said earlier this month it was not clear if the toxin is man-made or natural.

“We have received most of the results. A lot of variables that we suspected had tested negative. ¬†We ruled out any virus, no bacteria. Pathogens (are) also negative,” he said.

He added that “The only thing that we are waiting for is toxicology. What is evident is that we are now dealing with a poison.”


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