Hundreds of Botswana elephants may have died from the poisonous algae, officials say

After months of anxiety and speculation, the Botswana government said on Monday Sudden death of more than 330 elephants Northwest Botswana may have arrived earlier this summer as they drank water contaminated by a toxic blue-green algae.

Elephants in the Seronga region of South Africa Died of a neurological disorder According to Cyril Taolo, acting director of wildlife and national parks, “the toxic blooms of cyanobacterium in seasonal sunshine (water sources) in the area seem to have been caused by drinking contaminated water.

Tato said no other wildlife species was unusually affected by the toxic water in the Seronga area, near Botswana’s famous Okavango Delta. Svengers, like hyenas and vultures, were also seen feeding on elephant carcasses, but showed no signs of illness.

With an estimated 130,000 elephants, Botswana has The world’s largest population of pachydermsIs, which attracts international tourists.

Deca elephants are found in the Okavango Delta
The combination photo shows dead elephants in the Okavango Delta of Botswana in the months of May and June 2020.

Photos obtained by Reuters

Most of the elephants that survived the death fled the area, which is located primarily near seasonal water areas and does not spread beyond the area.

Samples of elephant carcasses were sent to laboratories in South Africa for testing, and now experts say the most likely cause is cyanobacteria that live in water and that paralysis and death are related to respiratory failure.

However, Taolo could not explain why these toxins do not affect other animals drinking the affected water. Meanwhile, the Botswana government has also denied humanitarian causes such as anthrax poisoning, poaching and vandalism.

Dr. Niall McCann, director of national park conservation, told CBS News that many unanswered questions remain. He explained that the Botswana government had not said where the poison was found. If they found it in the water sample, they said, it would “make their conclusion” extremely suggestive but not conclusive. “

Climate “threat amplifier”

McCann also said that there are different types of cyanobacteria and it is crucial to determine what is the best way to prevent any future damage to elephants.

He told CBS News that this period, the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere always brings blooms of toxic algae, and deaths from anthrax and other naturally occurring toxins are typical. But, he said, the large number of deaths this year serves as another example of how the world is interconnected.

Natural dy-sfs will “intensify” through climate change, he said, as summer hot temperatures across Africa acted as a “threat amplifier” for elephants and other wildlife.

The Botswana government said it would implement a “seasonal water-search monitoring plan” to monitor any future events.