What is killing off the African savannah elephants?

Credit: New Zealand Herald- Published on September 28, 2020
Warning: Photos may be distressing Parks authorities in Zimbabwe say that the recent deaths of elephants have been caused by a bacterial disease that has previously affected elephants in Asia and other animals in southern Africa,...
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Video credit: TomoNews US
Published 3 weeks ago -  01:38
356 Dead Elephants β€” Killer Finally Found
OKAVANGO PANHANDLE, BOTSWANA β€” Botswana is a country known for its pure African landscapes filled with most of Africa's most impressive animals. The country boasts huge national parks filled with a large number of animals like lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, and also hundreds of elephants. However, something had recently killed almost 400 of the country's elephants. And this time it wasn't poachers. Botswana conservationists call it one of the biggest disasters to impact elephants this century, and it happened right in the middle of one of Africa's top tourism destinations. According to the BBC, investigations into the disaster had been severely hampered by the Coronavirus pandemic. Scientists have been trying to find out what caused so many elephants to die in such a short time, and now they have found the culprit. More than two months after the mass die-off was discovered, investigations have now finally revealed that the mysterious deaths were caused by cyanobacteria, a toxic microscopic algae found in larger bodies of blue-green water. This microscopic organism is what killed 356 elephants in the span of a few weeks. The bacteria can grow naturally in standing water. Given enough time, they can bloom into algae on a larger scale. If even large animals like elephants ingest enough of this toxic algae, it can kill them. Scientists warn that climate change could end up making these events more likely in the future. Park officials say they are investigating how the neurotoxins got into the water. They are also investigating why the algae only killed elephants, and why the deaths occurred only in one area.

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permanently dedicated recreation area, often open to the public and generally characterized by natural, historic, or landscape features

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