In May and June, conservationists discovered the carcasses of 356 elephants in Botswana’s Okavango Panhandle. Some of the animals appeared to have collapsed and died suddenly, while walking or running. Others seemed disoriented, walking in circles before they died.
While the elephant deaths have ceased, their cause has remained a mystery, creating fears among some experts about the future of the mighty mammals in a country where their conservation has largely been a success story.
None of the bodies contained bullet holes and no tusks were removed, implying that ivory poachers were not involved. Some experts suspected that poisoning by local people might still be to blame, while others thought something in nature was the most likely explanation.
On Monday, Botswanan officials announced their answer: Neurotoxins produced by cyanobacteria, a type of microscopic algae, caused the elephants to die after they drank from large puddles that formed after rains. While some conservationists accepted the explanation, others did not consider the mystery solved and feared that the elephants could again face renewed danger.Times of India