Tag Archives: elephant

Botswana investigates elephants mysterious deaths

Preliminary laboratory tests explaining the reason for hundreds of mysterious elephant deaths in Botswana point to a naturally occurring toxin as a probable cause, a senior wildlife official said.

The government has sent samples to laboratories in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United States for tests.

It was highly unlikely that an infectious disease was behind the shocking deaths of at least 281 elephants, added Cyril Taolo, acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

Officials had been investigating to establish the cause of death more than two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region.

Initial investigations appeared to rule out common causes like poaching and anthrax.

We have received more test results from other countries including the United States, and so far the results show that it’s highly unlikely that the cause could be an infectious pathogen,” Taolo said.

Our main attention … is now on investigating broader environmental factors such as naturally produced toxins from bacteria that are found in the environment, such as water bodies.”

As of last week it had received results from bacterial detection and toxicology tests in Botswana, histopathology tests in South Africa, and bacterial detection and histopathology tests in Zimbabwe.

Taolo said toxicology results were expected from South Africa soon.

It’s a game of elimination where we start testing the most common causes and then move on to the less common ones. We then have to verify and corroborate these results from different laboratory tests. We are hoping to provide a more concrete update tomorrow,” he continued.

Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.

The elephant deaths have concerned the conservationists, who fear deaths could spiral out of control if a cause cannot be established rapidly.

Tanzania elephant & rhino populations recover

Tanzania presidency reported elephant and rhino populations have begun to recover after a government crackdown dismantled organized criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching and transporting the ivory to China.

A influential Chinese businesswoman running a poaching network on industrial scale, dubbed the “Ivory Queen” was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Tanzanian court in February for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants, weighing nearly 2 tonnes, to Asian countries. Yang Feng Glan had been charged in 2015 along with two Tanzanian citizens with smuggling 860 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004 worth $5.6 million.

“As a result of the work of a special task force launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 presently,” the presidency said in a statement this week, underlining the success of the case as a government victory over illicit ivory traffic.

The number of rhinos, an endangered species, had increased from just 15 to 167 over the past four years, the report says.

 

 

Mozambique ivory seized in Cambodia

Cambodian customs have seized more than three tons of elephant tusks from Mozambique following a notice from the US Embassy. The demand for ivory from China and Vietnam is a driving factor in Cambodia’s illegal wildlife trade.

The elephant tusks were hidden among marble in a container that was abandoned,” Sun Chhay, director of the Customs and Excise Office at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, told the AFP news agency.

The official said the ivory was sent from the southern African nation of Mozambique and it arrived in Cambodia last year. He also said the owner of the shipment did not show up to collect the cargo.

Officials said the tusks were discovered after a tip-off from the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

It was unclear whether the smuggled ivory was destined for markets other than Cambodia.

 

 

 

Poachers poison vultures in Mozambique

In Mozambique in just two years poachers killed nearly 150 hippos, and other protected species.

A total of 144 hippos, 111 buffalo, 54 elephants, four crocodiles and two lions – were killed between 2015 and 2016 in a small part of Tete province.

Dozens of monkeys, warthogs and antelopes were also victims to poaching.

Sadly, the numbers could be even higher, because at present poaching is reduced in the area thanks to wardens working with the Tchuma Tchato community wildlife management programme.

 

They went out on about 3,000 patrols during the period, intercepting 260 poachers, including Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and Zambians.

During the anti-poaching operation wardens seized 13 automatic weapons, 154 artisanal firearms, 16 spears, 34 axes, and more than 3,200 snares of various types, along with other items, like poison.