The unexplained and catastrophic death of nearly 400 elephants over three months is seriously alarming, World Animal Protection Africa has said.
In a press statement, Wildlife Campaign manager Edith Kabesiime on Monday, July 6, regretted that although the deaths were first reported in March, the government of Botswana is yet to respond more than three months as situation she said is “extremely concerning”.
“Where is the sense of urgency?” Kabesiime posed.
“Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s remaining 130,000 elephants. If a deadly, contagious virus has struck these elephants, we could see the population wiped out in months, and even spread to neighbouring countries,” she added.
She noted that the world is now familiar with how dangerous viruses can spread far and wide and mutate to other species. “Covid-19, that continues to wreak havoc on the world, must serve as a poignant reminder of this – given it is believed to have originate in bats,” she said.
The World Animal Protection is urging the government of Botswana to ramp up testing and investigations to prevent more elephant deaths – they must be protected, she said.
Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta, but poaching has been ruled out as the tusks were found intact.
“We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta, and we have confirmed 275 so far,” Cyril Taolo, acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told AFP news agency in a text message.