Hundreds of elephants have been found dead in recent months in Botswana, leaving many baffled experts trying to determine what is causing the deaths. Botswana, a landlocked nation which sits above South Africa, is home to the highest population of elephants in the world with an estimated 130,000 in the country.
Now the mysterious passing of hundreds of the majestic creatures along the country’s Okavango Delta has experts trying to figure out what is behind the deaths. Experts have ruled out poaching since all of the elephants had their tusks intact. Anthrax has also been ruled out.
"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 in a text message, CBS News reported.
Similar deaths were first reported in May when 12 carcasses were discovered within a week in two villages in the northwest of the country. Samples of the deceased have been collected and sent to nearby South Africa, Zimbabwe and as far as Canada for testing.
"Seventy percent of elephant carcasses were considered recent, having died about a month ago, and 30 percent of the carcasses appeared fresh, ranging from one day to two weeks old,” Elephants Without Borders said in a report published June 19. "There was good evidence to show elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying.”
The report also said that many elephants appeared to have been weak, lethargic and emaciated, with some showing signs of disorientation, difficulty in walking or limping.
"One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members," said the report.