By Luckmore Safuli
GOVERNMENT says investigations to establish the exact cause of the mysterious death of 15 elephants in Pandamasue and Woodlands are ongoing with preliminary results showing that the animals could have succumbed to a bacteria.
The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority veterinary doctor and other partners have stepped up efforts to zero in on the exact cause of the death of 15 elephants in Pandamasue and Woodlands area as the country seeks to solve the mystery.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said while preliminary results point to a bacteria, Pasteurella multocida, there are no conclusive findings as of now of what could have caused the mysterious death of the elephants.
“So far the preliminary results are indicating that there is a bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida. It is the one they are suspecting and have ruled out anthrax. However, we continue to dig deeper to confirm the actual or definitive cause of deaths. So this is work in progress,” he said.
A total of 11 elephants were found dead in Pandamasue Forest which is under the Forestry Commission while 4 other carcasses were discovered in Woodlands which is under Matetsi Environmental Conservation Area Committee.
Meanwhile, the responsible authorities say there is still no evidence linking the mysterious death of elephants in Pandamasue to the recent death of 280 elephants in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
“We do not have any conclusive evidence that might be linking these deaths to the Botswana elephant deaths. We are yet to have a link and we believe that it is possible that the two might not be related,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government which has in the past raised concern over the challenges posed by ballooning elephant population has also commenced aerial searches to establish if there are any other carcasses around the area.
Over the past few days, the responsible authorities have also taken precautionary measures by burning the carcasses of the jumbos to avoid the spread of the disease. Zimbabwe is home to the world second largest elephant population estimated at around 85 000.
By Luckmore Safuli