Near the Okavango River in northern Botswana, 44 elephant carcasses have been found in two days, reports Botswana Safari News.
Sunday, 36 bodies were found and Monday eight more. There could still be more bodies in the area that haven’t been found yet.
The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in Botswana says they died from ‘unknown cause’. Samples of the animals were taken to determine the actual cause of death.
People are speculating that the elephants were either poisoned or died from the disease anthrax. Anthrax is a bacterium that causes high fever, shivering, ulcers, and swellings. It’s one of the most fatal diseases for elephants.
At the end of last year, more than 100 elephants died in two months because of a suspected anthrax outbreak. The disease spreads through contaminated water or soil. Some experts have ruled anthrax out because it’s not the season for it.
According to Botswana Safari News, regional wildlife coordinator Dimakatso Ntshebe stated that postmortem results are expected soon but did not give the exact date.
Ntshebe said that it’s doubtful that the elephants have been poisoned: “Because if it’s poisoning it would affect other species in the area, not just elephants. The poison would kill scavengers like jackals and others which are feeding on carcasses.”
More than a third of all elephants in Africa live in Botswana, around 130,000. A year ago, President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a five-year ban on big game hunting in the country.