10 December 2018

Tanzania: 8 Elephants' Death Mired in Confusion

Photo: The Citizen
A herd of elephants.

EIGHT elephants have perished so far, in the wake of the emergence of a strange disease which only seems to affect jumbos in the northern tourist circuit.

Scientists at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), based in Arusha have taken up the case, saying the unidentified disease as well as the death of large mammals, is the first to be experienced in Tanzania.

Wildlife officers are just as baffled. Mr Joseph Meng'oro, the Deputy Wildlife Officer at the Ngorongoro District Council, where most of the deaths have been recorded, is worried that, more deaths could be occurring without notice.

"The jumbos started to haemorrhage through their trunks and then collapsed and eventually died in Arash Ward, from the 20th of September this year. Lately, we traced seven carcasses in different parts of Loliondo Division," he said.

The eighth elephant was discovered near Manyara Ranch in Makuyuni Ward in Monduli District. Mr Fidelis ole Kashe, an officer with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said the jumbo was spotted by villagers meandering in the area before it collapsed and died.

Samples of blood from the carcasses found in Loliondo were taken to the Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA) centre of Arusha, where chemists who conducted an analysis said no disease was detected.

The TVLA Test Report Number, ARTR 2018/949 as approved by Mr Paul Sanka at the Laboratory, indicated that the 'Microscopical Examinations,' samples using Polychrome Methylene Blue Stain were 'negative of anthrax,' it seems many had suspected cases of anthrax.

According to, Meng'oro, they also checked the carcasses for any wound to indicate possible cases of poaching but there was none.

However, the elephant which was found at Makuyuni had a spear wound on the back, but it was suspected that possibly some people used the weapon at the jumbo in self-defence after it meandered near their homesteads.

Some observers however propose that more tests should be conducted on the elephant remains, as it was possible that poachers could have resorted to using stealth poisonous chemicals to hunt down the jumbos for their ivories.

However, all the eight dead jumbos had their tusks intact. The Chief Conservator at Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Dr Freddy Manongi, said the incidences of Jumbo death have not yet been experienced in the NCA.

Contacted by phone, the Public Relations Manager for the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), Twaha Twaibu, speaking from Morogoro, said his authority was following up the incidence with TAWIRI and may release statement later.

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