Just north of Botswana’s world-famous Okavango Delta, it was lush and green as the summer rains tapered off and the air began to cool, but something wasn’t right. Savanna elephants, weighing as much as seven tons each, stumbled and staggered and walked in circles. Their heavy legs weakened as they struggled to take another step. One by one, they collapsed, many falling chest-first.
The first cluster of 44 elephants died in March 2020. By mid-June, conservationists had counted more than 350 carcasses scattered across the remote, roughly 3,000-square-mile region. By the following January, the number of mysterious deaths surpassed 450.
“There was a very foul smell,” says Davango Martin, the former manager of Kadizora Camp, a tourist lodge in the area. He