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Mystery As 11 Elephants Found Dead In Zimbabwe Forest

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Mystery As 11 Elephants Found Dead In Zimbabwe Forest

Warning: This article contains images which some readers may find distressing

An investigation has been launched after 11 elephants were found dead in a forest in Zimbabwe.

The carcasses were discovered in Pandamasue Forest, outside Hwange National Park, close to the border with Botswana.

Fears have now been raised, with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) claiming their deaths may have been caused by anthrax.

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Research and advocacy organisation CNRG shared this image of a bull elephant that was found dead. Credit: CNRG Zim
Research and advocacy organisation CNRG shared this image of a bull elephant that was found dead. Credit: CNRG Zim

Tinashe Farawo, a spokesperson for Zimparks, said that following preliminary investigations both poaching and cyanide poisoning - which are prevalent in and around Hwange National Park - have been ruled out.

Speaking about the tragic case, Mr Farawo said: "We can confirm that 11 elephants have been found dead and we're investigating the cause of the death.

"Our preliminary investigations have ruled out poaching and cyanide poisoning because the tusks are intact and no other animal species has been affected including vultures.

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Hundreds of elephants mysteriously died in Botswana earlier this year. Credit: Shutterstock
Hundreds of elephants mysteriously died in Botswana earlier this year. Credit: Shutterstock

"Zimparks suspects anthrax and veterinary doctors are on the ground. We have taken samples to the laboratory and we are waiting for results. The affected animals are sub-adults and calves and they all died within the proximity of water bodies."

It's hoped the investigations will determine whether or not the elephant deaths are related to those in Botswana earlier this year.

Back in July, more than 350 elephants were reported to have been found dead in the north of the country.

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An investigation has been launched into the cause of death for 11 elephants in Zimbabwe. Credit: Shutterstock
An investigation has been launched into the cause of death for 11 elephants in Zimbabwe. Credit: Shutterstock

At the time, scientists described the event as a 'conservation disaster', with the cause of death still unknown.

The first deaths were reported at the start of May, but when the figure rose to 169 elephants by the end of the month, scientists grew more concerned.

The number had more than doubled by the middle of June, with local sources saying that they believed around 70 percent of the deaths to have occurred near waterholes.

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Elephants at Hwange National Park. Credit: Zimparks
Elephants at Hwange National Park. Credit: Zimparks

Speaking to The Guardian, Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue, said: "This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn't been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don't know of a die-off that has been this significant."

It was reported that despite the large amounts of carcasses, other animals had not touched them, suggesting the deaths could have been the result of poisoning.

McCann said: "When we've got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone's minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, elephants

Dominic Smithers
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