Wildlife managers in Zimbabwe are investigating the deaths of eleven elephants in the Pandamasue forest near Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls. That’s what a spokesman for the park says to the British newspaper The Guardian.
In recent years thousands of elephants in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries have been poisoned by poachers for illegally selling their ivory tusks. But of the eleven animals found last weekend, their tusks were undamaged.
Blood samples were taken from the dead animals to determine the cause of their death. Park managers don’t rule out elephant disease.
Similar to elephant deaths in Botswana
Earlier this year, 400 dead elephants were found in neighbouring Botswana. Even the tusks of animals were still intact. Blood samples from these elephants are being examined in laboratories in Canada, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Until now anthrax, poaching and poisoning were excluded as possible causes of death. “But we won’t know for sure what the cause of death is until we’ve closed the investigation,” says the park manager.
Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world with about 156,000, followed by Zimbabwe with 85,000. Last year 200 elephants died from drought and lack of food.