Blue-green algae are the cause of massive elephant deaths in Botswana. The government announced this after months of mystery surrounding the death of 330 elephants.
The authorities and several conservation organizations have been investigating the cause of the animals’ death for months. Data analysis of the carcasses, soil, blood, and water reservoirs has now shown that blue-green algae, or a cyanobacterium, caused mass deaths.
The cyanobacteria living in the water in the Okavango Delta can produce deadly toxins, the Department of Conservation’s chief veterinarian said. Other animals are not affected by the bacteria. Elephants do because they use their trunks to absorb water.
When the reservoirs started to dry up around June, the mortality also stopped. Given the rainy season that is approaching, the government wants to take some measures to prevent new deaths, according to the chief veterinarian.
In July, 281 dead elephants were counted. The number has increased by fifty in two months. Botswana is known for its wildlife and is a popular tourist destination for its wildlife.