WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- According to The Guardian report, at least 350 elephants were found dead in Botswana near the county’s northern Okavango Delta since May as their bodies were scattered around the watering holes.
- Experts like Director Niall McCann of conservation at the UK-based charity National Park Rescue and Executive Director Mary Rice of Environmental Investigation Agency in London were calling for immediate testing of the mammoths’ samples amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- It is still not clear whether the incident could also pose a human threat until testing has been done by the government.
Experts had been calling for urgent testing in Botswana as hundreds of elephants were found in a horribly obscure death, based on a report.
According to The Guardian, about 350 elephants, residing near the county’s northern Okavango Delta, have died since May — rounded-up in watering holes.
Niall McCann, the director of conservation at the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, said that the incident was “a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant.”
“It’s a conservation disaster… It speaks of a country that is failing to protect its most valuable resource,” he added.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, McCann explained that the government should test the elephants’ samples in a creditable laboratory.
“When we’ve got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab,” he said, emphasizing that “there is no precedent for this being a natural phenomenon but without proper testing, it will never be known.”
Executive Director Mary Rice of the Environmental Investigation Agency in London also echoed McCann’s push for testing.
“The lack of urgency is of real concern…There have been repeated offers of help from private stakeholders to facilitate urgent testing which appear to have fallen on deaf ears,” Rice said. “[The] increasing numbers are, frankly, shocking,” she added.
According to local reports referred by the news outlet, Cyanide poisoning, which is often used by Zimbabwe poachers, could possibly be the reason of the elephants’ death. However, it was observed that the large mammals were not poisoned after eating the remains.
Based on the claims of witnesses, some of the elephants were seen walking around in circles which was a sign of neurological impairment. While some mammoths looked weak and famished.
It is still unclear whether the incident could be a threat to humans as the government has yet to conduct the testing samples of the mammoths, The Guardian reported.
The elephants were dying regardless of age and sex as experts suspected more fatalities in the coming weeks.
Normally, two of the most common causes of death among elephants are poisoning and an unknown pathogen.
Source: New York Post