The BBC News is reporting that a doctor and his colleagues in the southern African country of Botswana have found more than 350 elephant carcasses since the beginning of May.
Dr. Niall McCann, part of the United Kingdom-based charity National Park Rescue, told the BBC that local conservationists first alerted the government in early May following flight over the Okavango Delta.
Dr. McCann said 169 dead elephants were spotted “in a three-hour flight.”
“To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary,” McCann told the BBC. “This it totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought.” McCann said more carcasses were discovered in June, which brought the total “up to 350.” Lab results on samples taken will take several weeks, according to the report. Botswana holds one-third of Africa’s elephant population, which continues to decline. According to the report, Botswana’s government in May ruled out poaching as a reason for the massive number of deaths.
Dr. McCann said the way many elephants were positioned, either on their faces or possibly walking in circles, suggests that something could have attacked the elephants’ neurological systems. Dr. Cyril Taolo, acting director for Botswana’s department of wildlife and national parks, told The Guardian they had confirmed at least 280 elephants had died and were in the process of confirming the rest.