thousand elephants live in Botswana, Africa. Since March this year, there has
been a sudden death of elephants of unknown causes in the northwest of the
country, and the number of confirmed dead elephants has reached more than 300.
On the 21 day,
the animal and National Park Administration of Botswana announced that the
death of elephants was caused by toxic cyanobacteria bacteria in the water.
Local people take samples from dead elephants.
there was no parallel in history! More than 360 elephants died mysteriously.
The CNN reported on July 2nd this terrible news: local environmentalists in Botswana said that over the past three months, more than 360 elephants in Botswana had mysteriously died.
Dr. nyar McCann, head of the UK based charity National Park rescue, said the unusual number of elephant bodies was found in early May.
The BBC reports detail the process. At that time, some environmentalists flew over the area, and they found 169 elephant bodies during the three hour flight. They then reported the situation to the government. A month later, more elephant carcasses were found in further investigations, “a total of more than 350.”
“In the absence of drought, such a massive death event is completely unprecedented.” McCann said.
In addition, the distribution of elephant bodies has also attracted media attention. As of mid June, more than 350 elephants had died, 70% of them near pools, the guardian said.
Local witnesses said that some elephants circled around before they died, possibly as a “manifestation of nervous system damage.”. Experts said that there was no drought in the local area, and the mass death of elephants was unprecedented without drought and water shortage. Due to the topography of the area, it is difficult to find elephant bodies, so it is estimated that the actual number of elephant deaths in Africa will be higher.
The picture is from the Guardian
The report also noted that the age group and gender of the dead elephants were not consistent. According to the observation of the local people and the death posture of the elephant, some of them lie flat on the ground, which indicates that the death is faster; some walk around before death, and the death is relatively slow. And the health of some surviving elephants is not optimistic.
“It’s terrible. We need to know what’s going on,” McCann said of the bizarre death of elephants Talking about the cause of death of elephants, McCann said there may be many reasons for the death of elephants, such as the unique parasites on elephants.
“What I want to emphasize is that it has the potential to become a public health crisis.” Whatever the cause, McCann added, it is important to find out the truth, as the deaths of the elephants have “had a significant impact on a global scale.”.
According to the 2018 census of elephant numbers, Botswana has the largest number of elephants in Africa and has more than 130 thousand elephants. The Botswana government banned the hunting ban in May 2019 and will launch strict control of hunting. With regard to the plan after the lifting of the ban on elephant hunting, the government has stipulated that hunting will be strictly controlled in a small area, with no more than 400 elephants allowed to be hunted each year.
it happens that there is a similar case. On September 4, the wildlife protection department of Zimbabwe, an African country, found 22 African elephant carcasses in a forest in the West. The cause of death is unknown. This is the second “Elephant Kingdom” in Africa, where a large number of elephants died of unknown causes. According to statistics, at present, there are more than 83 thousand elephants in Zimbabwe, ranking second in Africa, next only to neighboring Botswana.
Experts say there may be many reasons for the death of elephants, such as the parasites peculiar to elephants. Some experts speculate that the death was caused by a virus or toxin.
It is worth mentioning that there is no evidence to prove that this series of tragedies originated from “ivory and poaching”. Preliminary tests in Zimbabwe have ruled out the possibility of cyanide poisoning and shooting. Botswana has also said that no evidence of poaching has yet been found in the investigation of the death of elephants. At present, the reasons for the “mysterious” sudden death of African elephants have been debated by various parties.
Final result: cyanobacteria toxin was detected in the sample
After months of investigation and sample testing, in September 21st, the animal and National Parks Authority of Botswana announced that hundreds of elephants died in the northwest of the country since March this year, caused by toxic cyanobacteria bacteria in the water.
“Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bacteria found in water,” the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ Principal Veterinary Officer Mmadi Reuben told a press conference on Monday.
However, there are still many questions in question: why only elephants die and no other animals die in large numbers? Why only in Africa? Experts are still investigating.
According to the World Health Organization, 59% of the world’s algae are toxic cyanobacteria. At present, there are 46 kinds of cyanobacteria which can produce toxin in the world. Different kinds of cyanobacteria contain different types of toxins, including neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, cytotoxins and endotoxin, which make them dangerous to human and animal life. Among them, cyanobacterial neurotoxins are highly lethal.
Scientists believe that global warming and rising water temperature are the incentives for the outbreak of cyanobacteria. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, temperatures in southern Africa are rising twice as fast as the global average.
In this month’s global climate report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pointed out that this summer was the hottest summer on record in the northern hemisphere, and the temperature in the three months from June to August broke the record set in 2016. September last month was the hottest August ever in the northern hemisphere, breaking the record set in 2016. And globally, August was the second hottest month on record in 141 years, after 2016.
The warming climate creates excellent conditions for the reproduction of cyanobacteria. Warm weather lengthens the growth season of cyanobacteria, and the stimulated cyanobacteria spread throughout the water, including some toxic cyanobacteria.
The global warming caused by human activities makes a large number of cyanobacteria, and also increases the number of toxic cyanobacteria, thus releasing neurotoxins, causing water pollution and mass death of elephants.
The cause of the death of the elephant was finally found. However, the guardian quoted observers as saying that more elephants would die in the future, “this is a disaster of elephant protection”.