Zimbabwe Sends Elephants Samples To Advanced Labs in US, UKAfrican News, Featured, Latest News, News, News Around Africa Monday, September 14th, 2020
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Zimbabwe has approached scientists in South Africa, United Kingdom and United States after its local laboratories failed to establish the actual cause of death of elephants in the country’s biggest national park.
More than 20 jumbos have died in Pandamasue Forest near Victoria Falls since last month and the cause remains a mystery.
The country’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority partnered Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in investigating the deaths with samples taken to the Trust’s lab in Victoria Falls.
Chris Foggin who has been leading to laboratory tests told Environment and Tourism Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu that results so far point to a bacterial infection but however the lab cannot conduct further tests because of lack of capacity.
“I was asked by President about what’s going on and I couldn’t respond. That is why I am here to get update from you in the lab,” said Ndlovu when he visited the lab Friday.
“So far we have 25 elephants that have died of similar causes. They doctors suspect that there is a bacteria that could be contributing to the deaths but they have flagged a number of issues among them being the growing populations and dry season where animals have to walk for distances to look for water and they believe that this bacteria probably gets activated because of high levels of stress,” said Ndlovu.
He said samples were sent Sunday outside the country.
“However, they indicated that they do not have lab capacity to confirm these issues and are sending samples to a number of laboratories in South Africa, UK and the US. We expect the results within two weeks,” he said.
Poisoning, poaching and anthrax have been ruled out amid fears the deaths could affect tourism as wildlife is the country’s draw card.
The country’s biggest game park, Hwange National Park has a population of more than 55,000 elephants against its carrying capacity of 15 000 thereby causing serious overpopulation and competition for resources.
Because of drought, the country lost more than 200 elephants last year between September and November.
Neighbouring Botswana is also still investigating death of more than 350 elephants which have died since May in eastern Okavango Delta.
The cause remains mysterious after samples tested in Zimbabwe and South Africa proved inconclusive.
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