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Elephants are dying again in Southern Africa

This past weekend we learned that Elephants are dying again in Southern Africa. This time it is in Zimbabwe. Last week, the remains of twelve dead Elephants were discovered in the Panda Masuie Forest area as reported by the press.

The Panda Masuie Forest area is located between Hwange and Victoria Falls. It is along the western border of the country with Botswana. This is an area where the Elephant and other wildlife, roam freely. They move from Zimbabwe into Botswana and back again depending on the availability of food and water.

Thirsty Elephant at the waterhole. An adult can drinks as much as 200 liters of water each day.

Blood sample analysis

Blood samples have been taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. This will hopefully determine the cause of their deaths. According to Tinashe Farawo, spokesman of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Cyanide poisoning has been ruled out following initial tests as only Elephants were affected. No vultures or any other species like Hyena and Jackal which would feed on the carcasses were affected. Poachers are also ruled out because the tusks were intact.”

Breeding herd of Elephant feeding in Botswana
Breeding herd of Elephant feeding in Botswana

Similar circumstances

The circumstance of these twelve Elephants dying again in Southern Africa are very similar to the deaths of the Elephants in the other southern African country, Botswana. This took place in the Okavango Delta in May 2020 as reported in our Blog. The distance between these locations is great. However, it is such a short period of time following the deaths of the 350 odd Elephants in Botswana. A very thorough investigation is required.

Poaching not to blame

The authorities in Botswana have ruled out the obvious enemies of poaching and Anthrax as reasons for the Elephant dying in Botswana. Tests ordered by the Botswana Government at laboratories in South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe remain inconclusive. Pesticides, Agrochemicals, and Pathogens have, however, been ruled out.

In a statement, Botswana’s environment ministry said it was investigating natural poisoning as a potential cause of death. The results received so far do not eliminate some form of poisoning. Environmental factors, including naturally occurring toxins, are still being investigated.

Elephants die off

This is the largest die-off of Elephants, outside of severe drought conditions experienced in a very very long time. The latest speculation has been around a “natural” toxin being the cause. Indications are that the cause may be some bacteria. The Elephants are overpopulated here resulting in them eating vegetation that could be poisonous.

Awaiting conclusive report

The world still awaits conclusive evidence explaining why these Elephants are dying again. The two investigations in Botswana and Zimbabwe will no doubt continue. The scientists will eventually find the actual reason for the die-off.

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