As the world looks to the Americas, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, Botswana is concerned about another issue. Hundreds of dead elephants have been found near the Okavango Delta in the north of the country. Until now, several options have been considered: poisoning, lack of water and even coronavirus. Now, in the absence of test results, authorities are pointing to a possible neurotoxin as the culprit in the hundreds of deaths of these pachyderms.

Most of the elephants have been found near water reservoirs and with their tusks intact. This would rule out at a stroke two of the theories. On the one hand, that the drought in the country may have caused these mass deaths of pachyderms. And, on the other hand, that these are poachers. That is, if the problem was poaching, the elephants would not have been found even with their ivory tusks.

In addition, hunters usually poison the elephants with cyanide. But in this case, this possibility has been ruled out. Not only because the tusks are not missing, but also because the scavengers who are eating the carcasses do not turn up dead. So they think this doesn’t explain these strange elephant deaths in Botswana either.

The fact that the dead elephants in Botswana are upside down, that is, as if they had suddenly collapsed, and that they have been seen making strange circles, seem to be two of the symptoms that indicate the action of a neurotoxin.

The government notes that the first results, according to Bloomberg, rule out all the usual diseases that cause these mass deaths of pachyderms. So we could be looking at a “new disease”.

Could it be coronavirus?

We know that there is transmission from humans to other animals such as cats, dogs and even tigers. But this option has also been ruled out because so far, this disease has not had a great impact on people living in this area. Also, at the moment, we don’t know if the coronavirus affects elephants. We will have to wait for the results to rule it out completely, but in principle it is not believed to be the cause.

While the final results are coming in, we can only theorize about the cause of these deaths. But the authorities in the country seem to be very clear that it is most likely a neurotoxin. In the next few days we will have a final answer to this mystery.

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