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Botswana probes 275 'mysterious' elephant deaths


<p><strong>Botswana says it is investigating a staggeringly high number of elephant carcasses 275 found in the popular Okavango Delta area of the southern African nation in recent weeks.</strong></p> <p>The Department of Wildlife and National Parks said it is mobilizing human personnel and aircraft to better understand the “mysterious deaths.”</p> <p>Lucas Taolo, the department’s acting director said local communities are being advised not to tamper with the dead elephant’s tusks.</p> <p>“We have no reason to dispute the numbers reported and we are continuing to verify reports,” Taolo added.</p> <p>Samples have been collected for analysis at labs in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada and anthrax has been ruled out as the cause. </p> <p>Poaching remains a threat in the country but also has been ruled out as the cause of the deaths.</p> <p>Botswana has the world’s highest population of elephants with more than 156,000 counted in a 2013 aerial survey in the country’s north.</p> <p>Former wildlife minister Tshekedi Khama, brother of former president Ian Khama, has blamed poaching in the Okavango Delta on President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision to disarm the wildlife department’s anti-poaching unit in 2018.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">“It's appalling — we need to know what the hell is going on.”<br /> <br /> More than 360 elephants have died in mysterious circumstances in Botswana in the past three months, according to local conservationists. <a href="https://t.co/Gks7obQXk9">https://t.co/Gks7obQXk9</a></p>— <span class="caps">CNN</span> (@CNN) <a href="https://twitter.com/CNN/status/1278619953202188289?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 2, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>In a separate statement on Thursday, Botswana’s government also announced “an alarming surge of rhinoceros poaching in the Okavango Delta” in recent days.</p>

We have no reason to dispute the numbers reported and we are continuing to verify reports.

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