2020-09-23

330 African elephants died mysteriously, the”murderer” was found

By yqqlm yqqlm

Every edit:Cheng Peng

As early as May to July this year, foreign media reported a large number of unexplained deaths of elephants in northwestern Botswana, Africa, triggering natural environmentalists and Wide attention from the public. The investigation found that the deaths of these elephants had nothing to do with their age and sex. Some died suddenly and fell directly on the ground instead of lying on their sides. Was someone deliberately poisoning, or died of hunger? Was it death from poaching, a virus or bacterial infection, or a natural toxin poisoning? For a while, people speculated about the cause of the elephant’s death.

Just this Monday, according to China Daily, citing Reuters, the Botswana Wildlife and National Park Service stated that the mysterious deaths of many local elephants this year shocked natural environmentalists. The”culprit” is cyanobacteria.

Cyril Tauro, deputy director of the Botswana Wildlife and National Park Service, said at the press conference that the number of elephant deaths has risen from 281 in July to 330. According to a previous survey by the Botswana non-governmental organization Elephants Without Borders (EWB), as of June 14, the number of dead elephants had reached 356. Mmadi Reuben, chief veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, said at a press conference that there are still many unanswered questions.

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Image source:AFPReuters (Elephants who died beside a water hole)

More than 300 elephants died strangely in Botswana

In previous reports, on April 25, the first unconventional death of an elephant was reported, which occurred near Seronga village. Since May, there have been a large number of The death record was reported. However, according to research by Vicky Boult, who is engaged in animal protection research at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, the first cases of elephant deaths should actually appear in March.

From May to June, a large number of elephant corpses were found in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and the alarm was sounded to arouse worldwide attention. Most of the elephant deaths occurred in northern Botswana, specifically near the village of Seronga on the northern edge of the Okavango Delta. This is a huge swamp inland area, inhabited by a large number of wild animal populations. Many corpses were found near water.

Among the elephant corpses found before, some were lying on the ground while others were kneeling on the ground and facing the ground, but their common feature is that the ivory is still intact on the dead elephant. Being taken away by someone shows that this was not done by poachers.

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Image source:Reuters (a dead elephant lying on its side)

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Image source:EPA (some elephants died facing the ground)

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Picture source:National Park Rescue (dead elephant, ivory is still there)

According to AFP, cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms commonly found in water, sometimes Exist in the soil, it can also grow naturally in stagnant water, and sometimes multiplies in large numbers. Scientists say that not all cyanobacteria produce toxins, but as climate change promotes global temperature rise, the existence of toxic cyanobacteria has become more common. This discovery was made after months of testing in specialized laboratories in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the United States.

A large number of elephant carcasses were found near the water hole, but until now, the wildlife management department has always suspected that cyanobacteria are the culprit. Their reason is that the mass reproduction is The edge of the water hole, and elephants often drink from the middle of the water hole.

Mmadi Reuben said, “Our latest test found that cyanobacteria neurotoxins are the cause of (elephant) death. These are bacteria found in the water.” He added:“(Elephant) died It is caused by poisoning caused by cyanobacteria, which grow in depressions or puddles.”

In addition, AFP quoted him as saying that the deaths of these elephants”are over at the end of June 2020. It’s when the depressions are dry.”

Cyril Taolo said that last year’s severe drought and summer rainfall led to the reproduction of cyanobacteria, and this type of neurotoxin may affect the transmission of nerve signals in animals, leading to respiratory failure, paralysis and death. However, he could not explain why this toxin does not affect other animals that also drink sewage. In this regard, Mmadi Reuben gave a guess, “Elephants are the only animals that drink water and suck silt under the water surface, and there are toxins in the silt.”

The death of elephants also highlighted. The impact of global warming. Scientists said that due to climate change, the water temperature is getting higher and higher, and the temperature in southern Africa is rising at twice the global average, making the area particularly vulnerable, which may cause bacteria to multiply and produce more toxins. Luyanda Ndlela, a researcher at the National Science Council of South Africa, said that once cyanobacteria blooms are formed, it is difficult to eliminate them with simple methods.

Cyril Taolo said that Botswana will regularly develop a seasonal water monitoring plan, and monitor and test the toxins produced by cyanobacteria to prevent such incidents in the future.

However, there are still many questions about the incident, such as why only elephants die? Why only concentrate in that area? Botswana officials stated that they are investigating the verification.

What are cyanobacteria?

According to WHO information, Cyanobacteria is also called blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, its blue-green color comes from its photosynthesis ability like plants. Found in all parts of the world, especially in the nutrient-rich and calm freshwater or seawater at the end of summer in warmer climates or colder regions, cyanobacteria can grow rapidly and form blooms; some types of cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect animals and humans; People may be exposed to cyanobacterial toxins by drinking or bathing in contaminated water; symptoms include skin discomfort, stomach cramps, vomiting, Nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blistering in the mouth, and liver damage. Swimming in water containing cyanobacteria toxins can cause allergic reactions, such as asthma, eye discomfort, skin rash, and blistering around the nose and mouth. High concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria can also poison animals, birds and fish.

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Picture source:Photograph.net cyanobacteria flooding

The escalating human-image contradiction

For a long time, Botswana is home to nearly one-third of the number of elephants in Africa. There are about 130,000 elephants living in Botswana. It also has other abundant wildlife resources. It is called the”Last Eden in Africa”.

Before 2014, foreign tourists can legally hunt elephants in Botswana as long as they pay fees and follow relevant regulations. After all, the tourism revenue generated by this has become the country’s second largest source of income. But in 2014, the then President of Botswana was pressured by Western environmentalists to ban elephant hunting. After the ban was issued, the elephant herd grew further, and its territory began to expand. Without natural enemies that can restrict them, elephants can thrive and thrive safely, and the size and number of elephant herds are thus increasing. The competition for space between humans and elephants is escalating, and the contradictions are becoming more and more obvious.

In addition to causing casualties to the villagers, when elephants appeared in groups around the village, the crops were ruined and the grasses and shrubs were bitten bare. The cattle and sheep that came to the river to drink water were stabbed to death with their ivory. Finally, the trees planted were also curled up with their trunks and uprooted. Wherever the elephants go, it can be said that there is no grass.

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Image source:James Morgan/worldwildlife.org

(Local people use sticks to beat trees to drive away elephants to prevent crops from being destroyed by elephants)

At the same time, for Botswana, a country with a population of only 2 million, 135,000 elephants are indeed too many. The large number of elephant herds has caused great harm to the local area. The farmers in the local villages are the first to bear the brunt.

Farmers living in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, the Boitshwarelo Seeptetswe family live by growing pumpkins and corn. The average monthly income of local farmers is only 35 pounds (308 yuan), and every grain of grain is extremely precious.

For them, corn and pumpkin are not only food for the family, but also an economic source that can be exchanged for money in the market to buy daily necessities. But the elephant herd ransacked the fields twice in three days, and the pumpkins and corn they had grown so hard were ruined.

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Image source:United Nations (Mokgweetsi Masisi, current President of the Botswana government)

As large rural communities have become increasingly difficult to coexist with elephants, this issue has become highly politicized. In May 2019, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi took a controversial move-lifting the ban on hunting elephants, on the grounds that hunting can reduce elephants It can also generate income for difficult rural communities. This move, coupled with the increase in poaching, means that in Botswana, the situation for elephants has become more difficult.

Daily Economic News Comprehensive Agence France-Presse, BBC, China Daily Net

The Paper, WHO, Tencent Net

Daily Economic News