Over 330 elephants have died in Botswana since the veterinary office started registering in May, this is such a huge number for a country whose tourism has elephants as one of the major attractions.
According to a report by the African News, it is believed that the toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria are behind the mysterious elephant deaths in Botswana this year.
Conservationists claim that the major reason for this is that climate change where temperatures have drastically increased globally and twice the global average in Southern Africa, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The principal veterinary officer of Botswana, Doctor Mmadi Reuben, shared that there are still questions as to why only elephants were affected as other animals in the Okavango Panhandle region appeared unharmed and it is also believed that some cyanobacterial blooms can harm people.
Dr Mmadi Reuben says that “We know the elephant to really be the only animal that for example, that is drinking below the surface of the water. And where the depth is a challenge it clearly shows the possibility of this species being able to suck the silt, which is really where the growth of this cyanobacteria is the majority of the time that involved.”
Scientists in Botswana are worried about the decrease in the number of elephants
Because of this, scientists in the country are getting worried about the decrease in the number of elephants seeing as climate change is creating a rather dangerous environment for wild animals.
Considering that no deaths were registered for other animals, the Wild Life authority and scientists are planning to study the situation in the country come next year.
What is Cyanobacteria?
Cyanobacteria, also known as Cyanophyta, are classified under both free-living photosynthetic bacteria and the endosymbiotic plastids (a membrane-bound organelle found in the cells of plants and algae) that are present in the Archaeplastida autotrophic eukaryotes.
The bacteria seem to survive in areas where they can obtain their energy through oxygenic photosynthesis and are not dependent on a fixed source of carbon and, as such, are widely distributed throughout aquatic environments.
The bacteria is known for producing deadly toxins that can kill wildlife and other mammals once consumed through contaminated drinking water leading to acute illness commonly known as gastroenteritis.
The name cyanobacteria is derived from the colour of the bacteria which is a Greek term that refers to the “blue-green algae” also called prokaryotes.
So many elephants have been lost this year alone as a result of poaching and now because of climate change, there might need for all concerned parties to start looking into how best they can ensure the safety of animals and particularly elephants.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.