Botswana Investigates Mystery Deaths of At Least 275 Elephants


A dead elephant is seen in this undated handout image in Okavango Delta, Botswana, May-June 2020.


GABORONE – Botswana is investigating a growing number of unexplained deaths of elephants, having confirmed 275 had died, up from 154 two weeks ago, the government said Thursday. 


The dead elephants were first spotted months ago in the Okavango Panhandle region, and the authorities say they have since been trying to discover the cause. Poaching has been ruled out as the cause of death, as the carcasses were found intact. 


“Three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada have been identified to process the samples taken from the dead elephants,” the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism said in a statement. 


In a report prepared for the government and seen by Reuters, Elephants Without Borders (EWB), a conservation organization, said that its aerial surveys showed that elephants of all ages appeared to be dying. The group counted 169 dead elephants on May 25, and another 187 on June 14, according to the report. 

在为政府准备的一份报告中,路透社看到,一个保护组织大象无国界组织(EWB)表示,其航空调查显示,各个年龄段的大象都快要死了。 该报告称,该组织在5月25日统计出169头大象死亡,6月14日共有187头大象死亡。

The directors of EWB did not immediately respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment on the report. 


“Several live elephants that we observed appeared to be weak, lethargic and emaciated. Some elephants appeared disorientated, had difficulty walking, showed signs of partial paralysis or a limp,” the report said. 


“One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members.” 


The report said urgent action was needed to establish if the deaths were caused by disease or poisoning. 


Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching, but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to 130,000 from 80,000 in the late 1990s. 


However, they are seen as a nuisance by some farmers, whose crops have been destroyed.


President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a five-year ban on big game hunting in May last year but the hunting season failed to take off in April as global travel restrictions meant hunters from many coronavirus-hit countries could not enter Botswana.  

去年5月,总统莫西韦西·马西西(Mokgweetsi Masisi)取消了对大型猎物的五年禁令,但由于全球旅行限制,许多冠状病毒感染国家的猎人无法进入博茨瓦纳,狩猎季节未能在4月份开始。



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