- Title: Botswana responded swiftly to mystery elephant deaths, state vet says
- Date: 3rd July 2020
- Summary: GABARONE, BOTSWANA (JULY 3, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCIPAL VETERINARY OFFICER OF BOTSWANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND NATIONAL PARKS, MMADI REUBEN, SAYING: "I can confirm that government of Botswana responded swiftly to the ongoing elephant mortality in northern part of the country. Upon hearing that there are a number of elephant dying in the area, the district veterinary and wildlife team moved onto site and they were shortly thereafter augmented by a team of experts from the head office."
- Embargoed: 17th July 2020 17:53
- Keywords: africa botswana dead elephants endangered animals mystery cause
- Location: OKAVANGO DELTA, GABARONE AND KASANE, BOTSWANA/ BORANA, KENYA
- City: OKAVANGO DELTA, GABARONE AND KASANE, BOTSWANA/ BORANA, KENYA
- Country: Various
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA002CL9B613
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
One of Botswana's top vets on Friday (July 3) denied accusations the country reacted too slowly after the mystery deaths of hundreds of elephants.
Some conservationists accused the government of acting slowly to establish the cause of at least 275 elephant deaths in the Okavango Panhandle region.
But some two months after the first deaths were recorded the cause of the deaths is still being investigated.
Authorities have ruled out poaching because the carcasses were found intact.
"A government investigating team has been on the ground since the first cases were reported," said Mmadi Reuben, principal veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
"Botswana responded swiftly."
Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants, a third of Africa's total, making it a magnet for wildlife lovers. Pictures of the dead elephants have caused considerable distress, with some activists saying the government should be doing more.
The head of research at Save The Elephants, Chris Thouless, said mass elephant deaths on this scale were almost unprecedented, save during droughts.
He raised the possibility of a viral disease being the cause of the deaths.
In that case, he said the government had a limited range of options. "You're not going to be able to get the elephants to do social-distancing, and you're not going to be able to inoculate them because you almost certainly won't have a vaccine."
(Production: Shafiek Tassiem, Paul Warren, Gabriela Boccaccio)
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