In Botswana’s Okavango Delta, more than 350 elephant carcasses have been spotted in the past two months.
No-one knows why the animals are dying – home to a 3rd of Africa’s declining elephant population.
Either way, without knowing the source, it’s impossible to rule out the likelihood of a disease crossing into the human population – especially if the cause is in either the water sources or the soil. Dr McCann points to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to possess started in animals.
Botswana is investigating “completely unprecedented “deaths of many elephants”.
The government said laboratories in Canada, South Africa and Zimbabwe would be asked to “process the samples taken from the dead elephants”.
In a report prepared for the govt., conservation organisation EWB said, its aerial surveys showed that elephants of all ages seemed to be dying, accordingly Reuters.
“They spotted 169 during a three-hour flight, this is often totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying during a single event unrelated to drought,” Dr McCann said.
Dr McCann has also tentatively ruled out natural anthrax poisoning, which killed a minimum of 100 elephants in Botswana last year.
They have been unable to rule out either poisoning or disease. The way the animals appear to be dying – many dropping on their faces – and sightings of other elephants walking in a circle points to something potentially attacking their neurological systems, Dr McCann said.
“Yes, it’s a conservation disaster – but it also has the potential to be a public health crisis,” he added.