General, Research, Technology

Elephants are massively killed in Africa, but scientists don’t know why

From South African country Botswana arriveddisturbing news - over two months more than 350 dead elephants were discovered there. Most individuals lay face down, which suggests that death overtook them suddenly. Researchers also noted that bodies were mostly found near the African Okavango River. The problem seems very serious, and scientists still can not figure out the cause of the mass death of animals. Someone believes that the animals become infected with an unknown disease, and someone blames the poachers for what happened - earlier they actively used poisons for the extraction of ivory. But which of the suggested assumptions is closer to the truth and why is the cause of the death of animals so hard to find out?

Is there really another unexplored disease in the world?

The largest animal on land

According to the science publication ScienceAlert, previouslyBotswana was considered the best place for a carefree living elephants. On the territory of this country about 135,000 individuals of savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) live, while in other regions of our planet they are practically absent. These creatures are included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest land mammals - an individual of record size lived in the 20th century, its body weight reached 12 tons. On average, the body length of these elephants is about 7.5 meters, and the height is approximately 3.8 meters. The lifespan of elephants reaches 80 years, and age can be determined by the size of their body, the length of the tusks and the condition of the teeth.

It is quite easy to distinguish the female of the savannah elephant from the male - males have long tusks

Mysterious death of elephants

At the moment, scientists have several explanations for the sudden death of a large number of elephants. In 2019, about 100 Botwana elephants died due to anthrax outbreaks. The causative agents of this dangerous infectious diseasebacteria are Bacillus anthracis, and it is characterized by the appearance of inflammation on the skin and internal organs. There is a small probability that this time this disease is also involved in the death of animals. But the Botswana government denies this version - probably because elephants would not die of anthrax right on the go. In addition, there are no reports on the presence of damaged skin in the found elephants.

Microscopic causative agents of anthrax

The second version says that elephants could diedue to a disease that is still unknown to science. According to The Guardian, some people saw wild elephants walking in circles, which wasn’t a very natural behavior for them. If the problem really is some kind of disease, then it clearly affects the nervous system of elephants and affects the functioning of their brain. What really worries is that an unknown disease can be dangerous for people.

Elephants are massively killed in Africa, and this is a terrible picture

Scientists also suggest that mass deathelephants are the work of poachers. Recently, elephants began to attack people more often, so the Botswana authorities removed some of the restrictions on hunting. There have been cases when poachers used cyanide to kill elephants, which causes severe fatal poisoning. But in this particular case, this theory is doubtful, because dead elephants have tusks and other parts of the body that are of interest to poachers. In addition, hyenas and other scavengers who eat corpses of animals are healthy - but if the meat had been poisoned, they could have died.

See also: Which elephants lived 300,000 years ago and why did they die out?

Study of the causes of the disease

Environmentalist Peter Kat and other advocatesnatures are concerned that the Botswana government has not yet sent samples of dead elephants to identify causes of death. After all, it can be a completely new disease, contagious, including for people.

Several months have passed since the discovery of the first bodies of the dead elephants, but the cause of their death is still unknown, Peter Kat was indignant in his blog.

The authorities of Botswana, in turn, assure thatSamples have already been sent to the laboratory. However, a long delay arose in the study of the samples, the cause of which was the coronavirus pandemic. The government hopes to get the results of the study in the coming weeks.

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It is hoped that the cause of mass deathelephants will be revealed soon. In the meantime, scientists are conducting a study, I recommend reading material from the author Artyom Goryachev about the most unusual animal diseases. Would you suggest that the headache record holders are turtles? Did you know that bees can get autism? For me, all this was new, so I recommend reading it!