Botswana: Cyanobacteria now proven to have caused tragic death of over 300 elephants

Aerial photo from July taken in the area of the ‘Okavango' pan handle of northwest Botswana

Global warming and shrinking water holes.

The mysterious discovery from the air of over 300 elephant carcasses, back in July of this year, sent alarm bells ringing to conservationists within Africa and much further afield.

Whilst over 300 deaths from an estimated population of 130,000 elephants roaming around Botswana was not deemed a serious threat to their existence, the very nature – the concentrated area and the closeness between the timing of their deaths did warrant serious investigation.  It has now been concluded after thorough tests and examinations that cyanobacteria was indeed the cause of these deaths.

Explaining why it was possible that other animals, apart from one horse, had not appeared to suffer the same fate, Mmadi Reuben,  Principal Veterinary Officer (Botswana Department of Wildlife & National Parks) hypothesised that the elephants using their trunks are drinking water from a lower level and therefore "closer to the silt where the anaerobic toxins are contained".

The concluding report featured in major news outlets around the world just this week including those listed below. Click on the links to read their respective reports.

 

BBC News (UK)   ABC News (US)   ABC News (Australia)