The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism said following the mysterious deaths of elephants in the areas around Seronga since March 2020, to date, 281 elephant carcasses have been verified against the 356 reported cases.
“Furthermore investigations regarding the unexplained deaths of elephants are still ongoing. Government has therefore devoted resources for this purpose and working with other Non-Governmental Organization such as CARACAL and Eco- Exist to methodically establish the cause of mortality. In addition, the Ministry has collaborated with law enforcement agencies to assist in forensic investigations,” the Minstry stated.
Initial testing of samples was conducted locally and for further additional testing, the samples were sent to reputable laboratories abroad. However the movement restrictions occasioned by the COVID 19 pandemic, have adversely affected the movement of diagnostic samples to foreign laboratories causing delays in receipts of the results. Nonetheless results from Zimbabwe are currently being analysed and interpreted whilst results from other laboratories are expected in a week time.
“Members of the public are informed that removal of tasks from the carcasses are ongoing. In addition, aerial survey in NG 11, 12 and NG13 is currently ongoing, whilst aerial patrol of NG14 has started to establish any more mortalities within the area.”
Meanwhile the Ministry said it continues to engage with local and international media through various platforms. Media interviews were conducted through local radio stations and media inquiries for both local and international have been attended to over the past week. Subsequently, a media tour to Seronga area was undertaken for journalists to get firsthand information. Furthermore, the Ministry hosted a press conference which was live streamed on Botswana Television and BW facebook.
“Furthermore the Ministry is at an advanced stage of reviewing Elephant Management Plan which will guide in management and conservation of elephants. In addition, government is investing in building local capacity for testing, to this end the Ministry is setting up its own laboratory working alongside with stakeholders to acquire advanced testing equipment .
“The Ministry wishes to inform members of the public that any new development regarding the ongoing investigations will be communicated.”