According to Dr Reuben Mmatli of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, findings on the mortality of 330 elephants around the Seronga area between April and July this year are linked to cyanobacteria.
Giving an update during a press briefing in Gaborone on 21 September, Dr Mmatli said the bacteria only affected elephants – it did not affect animals and vultures that consumed carcasses or drank water from the same ponds. The elephants exhibited neurological symptoms and eventually died after drinking water from ponds in the area, explained the principal veterinary officer.
Dr Mmatli said the pathological evaluations did not point to any significant finding related to the infectious cause of the elephant deaths. Further investigations, he said, were being conducted to determine how to best deal with the disease in future as well as to find better ways of controlling it.
The department’s deputy director, Dr Cyril Taolo, ruled out human involvement, anthrax and poaching in the mortality of the elephants. He said the cause of the mysterious deaths was established through examination of water, blood, soil and elephant carcass samples that were sent to Canada, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe for further investigation. – Daily News