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Twelve elephant carcasses discovered in Zimbabwe

After the discovery of twelve elephant carcasses in Zimbabwe, game rangers are investigating the suspicion that the death of the pachyderms could have been caused by a bacterial infection. The fact that the elephants were killed by poachers while hunting for ivory can be ruled out because their tusks are intact, said a spokesman for the wildlife protection and nature park authority of the AFP news agency.

The elephants also did not die of cyanide - that can be ruled out because the vultures that ate their carrion showed no signs of such poisoning, said the spokesman for the authorities Tinashe Farawo. Cyanide is widely used by poachers in the South African country to kill elephants.

Transmission via plants possible

According to Farawo, the initial findings suggested that the elephants may have died from a bacterial infection. The bacteria could have been transmitted from plants that the elephants do not normally eat. According to the wildlife conservationists, the overpopulation of elephants means that the animals often no longer find their preferred food and then feed on other and sometimes poisonous plants.

There are more than 84,000 elephants in Zimbabwe. According to the authorities, the country actually only offers space for up to 50,000 elephants. The twelve carcasses were found in a wooded area north of the Hwange National Park. According to the wildlife conservationists, they were “youngsters” aged five and six years and even younger animals aged around one and a half years.

In neighboring Botswana, the carcasses of more than 300 elephants believed to have died after being poisoned by plants had already been found this year. With around 130,000 animals, Botswana is the country with the largest elephant population in the world.