11 more jumbos found dead in Hwange game park

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By Staff Reporter

ELEVEN more elephants were found dead in the Pandamasue forest, located between Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls, bringing the total number to 22.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority confirmed the unfortunate development Wednesday.

Parks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said investigations to ascertain the cause of deaths continue but suspect a “bacteria” was wreaking havoc.

Farawo also said overpopulation of elephants and drought was another possibility adding that it may get worse in the dry season.

“We have now lost 22 elephants (that have succumbed). We did an aerial survey on Tuesday and discovered other dead elephants,” Farawo said.

“We will continue to carry out surveillance through the air and deploying drones to see the general area and find what is happening. Indications are showing bacteria which we are suspecting as causing the death of these elephants although we are still waiting for further tests.”

He said the carcasses of the dead elephants were being burnt while the authority was also exploring the possibility of an independent laboratory test in a bid to get to the bottom of the matter.

Poaching and cyanide poisoning have been ruled out as possible causes.

“What we have done also is to burn the carcasses of the elephants so that we avoid the spread of diseases. We are exploring the possibility of an independent laboratory to do further tests,” Farawo said.

“The problem is the overpopulation of elephants. If they are overpopulated, they then tend to overgraze or overeat. If you look at it, the animals which are succumbing are young and some might not even reach for higher branches because there is no food, they end up eating anything and some plants may be poisonous.

“The elephants are dying within the proximity of the waterhole in that general area but the biggest threat to the survival of our elephants is loss of habitat. In the drier months of the year, we are likely to have more problems.”

This came also as more than 275 elephants were found dead in neighbouring Botswana and scientists are still establishing the cause.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated at 156 000, and Zimbabwe the second largest, estimated at 85,000.