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Officials Discover Cause Of Mass Elephant Deaths In Botswana

Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana, officials said, announcing the result of an investigation into the deaths which had baffled and alarmed conservationists. Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures. Elephant carcasses found since deaths were first reported around early May had risen to 330, from 281 in July. The specific type of neurotoxin had yet to be established. Authorities will monitor the situation during the next rainy season. For now there was no evidence to suggest that Botswana’s wildlife was still under threat as officials were no longer seeing deaths. Questions remain as to why only elephants had been affected. Other animals in the Okavango Panhandle region appeared unharmed.