In July 2020, foreign media publishedalarming reports that elephants have begun to die en masse in the southern African country of Botswana. Local residents noticed that some individuals began to walk in circles, which indicated damage to the nervous system. Most of the animals were found lying face down, hinting at sudden death. Elephants continue to die to this day, but scientists for a long time did not understand what caused their mass death. If it were the work of poachers, they would certainly cut off the elephant tusks, but they stayed in place. Therefore, scientists began to believe that the cause of death of elephants is an unknown disease that can be dangerous to humans. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, finding out the cause of the mass death of huge animals has been delayed, but recently things have finally gotten off the ground.
Death of elephants in Botswana
The alleged cause of death for elephantsmost of all similar to the truth, said ScienceAlert. On the territory of Botswana, a real detective story unfolded, because there was no particular reason for the mass death of the savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana). I have already talked about the situation in this African country in this article. Scientists were outraged that the country's authorities did not send samples of dead animals to laboratories to search for pathogens, although an unknown disease could be dangerous for people. Researchers had no choice but to advance theories. Over the course of several months, they put forward several assumptions about the death of elephants.
In their opinion, huge animals could die from:
- anthraxwhich has already killed hundreds of Botswana's elephants in 2019;
- poacherswho previously killed elephants with poisonous cyanide;
- unknown disease, which clearly affects the nervous system of animals.
The first two assumptions fell away. Anthrax could not be the cause of their death, because no damaged skin and internal organs were found on the bodies of the animals. And this is definitely not the work of poachers, because the valuable elephant tusks remained in place. To prove the involvement of an unknown disease, the researchers needed to study samples of dead animals in the laboratory. More than three months after the discovery of the first dead elephants, the samples have finally been analyzed.
The cause of death for elephants is indeeddisease, but not the fact that it is unknown. Researchers believe that the process that destroys animal organisms began due to the effects of poison, which can be produced by some bacteria. Most of the bodies were found near the African Okavango River, so it may well be that dangerous bacteria have appeared in these waters.
This is not surprising, becausewater poisoned by bacteria has caused the death of animals many times. In one of the previous articles, I already talked about how the reservoirs in the US state of North Carolina and Georgia turned blue-green. The water has changed its hue because algae have settled in them, which are actually a collection of microscopic creatures called cyanobacteria. After swimming in contaminated water, several dogs lost their lives. Considering that the Okavango River is also contaminated, and the elephants drink this water, there is nothing surprising in their death.
However, at the moment it is also justan assumption, albeit a very plausible one. Researchers continue to study samples of dead animals and will soon be able to reveal more details. It is not yet clear what measures the authorities will take. But for now, it would be logical to restrict animals and humans from accessing a potentially contaminated river with bacteria in order to stop the increase in the number of victims.
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In addition to the Okavango River, contaminated by dangerousbacteria can be one of the meteorite lakes in India. It recently changed its color dramatically and scientists wondered why this could happen. The answer was found pretty quickly and you can find it out in this material right now. Enjoy reading!