Toxins from cyanobacteria in the water were killed by more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year, authorities said on Monday when they reported the results of months of research.
Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms that are normally found in water and occasionally in soil. Not all of them produce toxins, but researchers say that toxic bacteria are becoming more common as a result of global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures in South Africa are rising twice as fast as the global average.
Cyril Taolo, deputy head of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, said the number of animals killed rose to 330. ̵
A special analysis was carried out on samples taken from carcasses, blood, soil and periodic waters in which cyanobacteria were identified. Cyanobacteria living in the Okavango Delta can produce deadly toxins, Reuben says, and dead animals have shown signs of their nervous system breakdown. However, there are still many questions to be answered, e.g. B. why only elephants were killed and why only in this area. We have a number of theories that we are still investigating, ”he added.
According to Reuben, it is conceivable that other animals also drank from the water in which the bacteria were hiding. However, they were not affected as the elephants drank water with their noses. Therefore, it is possible that they drank from the deeper underground layers where the bacteria live. The growth of cyanobacteria can be harmful to both humans and animals. Scientists are concerned about the possibility as climate change will lead to rising water temperatures, creating more favorable conditions for many bacteria. We also found that elephant death rates also fell when smaller bodies of water began to dry up in June. We know the rainy season is coming soon, so we are working on several measures that could ensure that elephants no longer die in the region, ”said Reuben.
The overall population of African elephants is decreasing due to poaching, but in Botswana, where nearly a third of the continent’s elephants live, the number of terns has increased and is now around 130,000.