Botswana: Cause of Elephants' Deaths Still Vague

Seronga — Investigations into the cause of the recent elephant mortalities in the Okavango region are still ongoing.

About 115 mortalities have so far been recorded in the areas surrounding the villages of Gunotsoga, Eretsha and Seronga since April 25, 2020.

Principal veterinary officer at Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Dr Wave Kashweeka said results for samples that the investigating team had taken for postmortem first round, came out negative for anthrax.

He said they had now beefed-up the team by bringing on board doctors from the department of veterinary services to work together on investigations.

Dr Kashweeka noted that in their investigations, all dead elephants they took samples of, had a common symptom of flabby hearts.

Also as part of the research, he said, they took samples from an anaesthetised elephant to compare with those from animals that were found dead.

He said the latest samples were taken on May 23 and were to be taken to some laboratories in Pretoria or Victoria Falls for further tests.

Dr Kashweeka further noted that observation was also made where some of the elephants in the area were found to have difficulties in walking or dragging their feet.

He also said the investigating team engaged the community by conducting interviews for indigenous knowledge information.

As for environmental conservation, Dr Kashweeka said the department had engaged casual labourers who helped in burning the carcasses.

He noted that before burning, elephants' tusks were removed and disinfected before storage.

Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Ms Phildah Kereng commended the investigating team for their job since the first reported cases.

"These elephants' deaths are a cause for concern.

We have always as a country relied on tourism as a source of revenue, and these animals are one of the tourist attraction species in the country," she said.

She therefore encouraged DWNP doctors to work on an extensive research on flora and fauna and document such for future use.

Kgosi Disho Ndowe of Seronga said the recent elephants' deaths in his area were shocking, adding that it was the first time they experienced such calamity.

He encouraged the community to continue reporting any findings of elephant carcasses to relevant authorities.

Source : BOPA

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