The mystery behind the death of 330 elephants in Botswana last May has finally been solved. After countless scientific tests, the Government of that country attributes the mass death to a cyanobacterium. This type of bacteria, which have the ability to photosynthesize, flourish in the water and are capable of producing toxins that poison terrestrial fauna. A large portion of the elephants that died appeared near watering holes in the Okavango Delta, leading authorities to deduce that the cyanobacterium was found in the water they drank.
One of the strangest circumstances in this case, according to some conservationists, is that the elephants were the only animals poisoned by the bacteria in the water. Even wild species that fed on the carcasses, such as hyenas and vultures, showed no signs of disease. They have also ruled out that their death was caused by poaching, since all had their tusks.
“We still have a lot of questions to answer, including why only the elephant species (was affected), why in the area involved and what could trigger all these changes that we have seen in the area. We have several hypotheses that we are investigating, ”said Mmadi Reuben, chief veterinarian of the Department, at the press conference.