Algae blamed for the mysterious deaths of Elephants

The Okavango Delta, located in Africa, is one of the richest and last natural sanctuary in the country. Also, the location where the mysterious deaths of Elephants occurred.

From May to June, nearly 300 carcasses of elephants inhabited the Okavango Delta. The locals and Wildlife Conservationists who conducted an aerial documentary of the sanctuary described the enormous animals walking abnormally.

Theories then were formed to address the phenomenon, leading to some to establish that the cause could be encephalomyocarditis, anthrax, toxins in water, human-induced poisoning or starvation, dehydration, etc.

Further investigation showed that the regions where the deaths occurred mostly were in a remote northeastern part of the Delta. The location houses nearly 16,000 inhabitors, 18,000 cattle, and elephants.

In the past, there were many instances where the tribes living in the region poisoned the watering holes to save their crops and farming land from invasions. But, when the test results came out, such a crucial activity was not present.

The involvement of climate and micro-organisms

After conducting a series of tests on the scenes soil, air, and water, Dr. Mmabi Rueben said, “Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths.”

Local sources in the region further back the matter, saying 70% of the deaths occurred near the bodies of water that contains algal blooms.

A similar instance occurred in Kazakhstan in 2015, where over 200,000 Saiga Antelopes died because of a bacterial strain called Pasteurella.

On the other hand, climate change has bought many changes in the weather and temperatures. The changes can also result in the increasing production of algal booms, acting as a threat to animals and humans.

Moreover, Zimbabwe reported nearly 20 Elephant deaths in August. Authorities believe that the same strain of bacteria (Pasteurella) caused the unusual event.

Collaborative efforts to save wildlife

Dr. Naill McCann, a National Park director, said he is working with officials to set up early regional warning systems. He further highlighted that the government of Zimbabwe collaborated with the UK to test the samples.

Additionally, he stated that new and emerging infectious diseases are happening all the time, and the more they look into its epidemiology, the more facts are unveiled.

Meanwhile, Okavango Delta became a national site in June 2014. It is the 1000th site to be inscribed on the list. Apart from this, the Delta is one of the seven wonders of the continent. Furthermore, it is home to various ethnic groups, and animals like the White Rhinoceros, African Bush Elephants, Brown Hyenas, and more.

Image courtesy of Donovan van Staden/Shutterstock

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