Botswana’s mass elephant deaths caused by bacteria

GABORONE, Botswana (AFP) – Hundreds of elephants that died mysteriously in Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta succumbed to cyanobacteria poisoning, the wildlife department revealed yesterday.

The landlocked southern African country boasts the world’s largest elephant population, estimated at around 130,000. Over 300 of the pachyderms mysteriously died since March, with their intact tusks ruling out the hypothesis that they were killed by poachers.

“The deaths were caused by poisoning due to cyanobacteria which was growing in pans” or watering holes, Principal Veterinary Officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Mmadi Reuben told reporters. He said the deaths “stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans.”