What’s killing Botswana’s elephants? Here are the top theories.
More than 280 elephants are dead and officials are still trying to unravel the cause.
They walk in circles and appear dizzy before suddenly dropping dead, sometimes face-first. No one knows why. Over the past several months, hundreds of elephants have died in Botswana, some with these symptoms.
The bizarre behavior and sheer number of deaths suggest to experts that it’s unlikely that diseases known to afflict wild elephants, such as tuberculosis, are to blame. The elephants’ tusks aren’t missing, which rules out poaching for ivory. Yet the death toll keeps growing. Government officials say they’ve verified that 281 elephants have died since March 2020; conservation NGOs in the area say the death toll is even higher.
“From a population perspective this is not serious, even though many elephants have died,” says Markus Hofmeyr, a wildlife