Mystery Surrounding Botswana Elephant Deaths Resolved
Earlier in the year we reported on (and received many questions regarding) the unexplained deaths of nearly 300 elephants in northern Botswana. The deaths were highly localized, and the carcasses were intact (i.e. it was not the result of ivory poaching); there were also no scavenger or vulture deaths, ruling out deliberate poisoning. After months of research in labs in the USA and South Africa, the cause has been identified as a neurotoxin produced by cynobacteria that occur in water. It is hypothesized that an algal bloom at a specific waterhole was responsible for the dangerously high levels of these naturally occurring bacteria, and that elephants were particularly hard-hit because of the large volumes of water that the consume.
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