Botswana registers no new elephant deaths since June



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Botswana has recorded no new elephant deaths since June this year, Oduetse Koboto, the permanent secretary in Botswana’s ministry of environment, natural resources conservation and tourism, has said.

The southern African country recorded 281 elephant deaths, due to unknown causes, between March and May.

“The number of elephant carcasses found in the northern part of the country remains at 281. No more new elephant deaths have been recorded as of June,” Koboto told Xinhua in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Botswana, home to an estimated 156,000 elephants, the world’s largest elephant population, registered a string of elephant deaths with no signs of poaching and human poisoning.

Experts suspect that the elephants died of a toxin, which remains unclear if it was natural or man-made.

Botswana has sent samples to Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United States to ascertain the cause. Test results from Zimbabwe and South Africa have ruled out any virus, pathogens or bacteria, Koboto said.

“We are only waiting for toxicology,” he said.

Koboto said the Botswana government is waiting for one last batch of test results from the United States.

COVID-19 restrictions have hampered efforts to establish what caused the elephant deaths.

Neil Fitt, a Botswana-based conservationist, told Xinhua that environmental toxins come and go depending on weather conditions.