Wildlife

Over 400 Botswana elephants killed in mystery mass die-off

The carcasses of more than 400 elephants have been discovered north of the Okavango Delta and nobody yet knows what’s killing them. The government appears to be dragging its heels in pursuit of answers.From the air, a dead elephant torn into by scavengers is a grisly sight. In north-east Botswana the presence of at least 400 must have been overwhelming.

The first carcass was found near Seronga on May 11 by researchers in a helicopter trying to discover why an elephant with a satellite tracker hadn’t moved for some time. What they found was shocking.

The dead elephants were dotted near natural waterholes in mopane woodland and along trails. They had collapsed on their chests, almost in mid-step, suggesting sudden death — almost what a chemical nerve poison would do.

A further eight elephants in the area appeared to be weak and lethargic, some walking with difficulty or in circles, suggesting neurological impairment. Puzzlingly, no young elephants appear to have died.

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