Robin Muchetu in Hwange, Senior Reporter
TWO more elephants died in the Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls on Friday bringing the number of elephants that have died in the area in the past two months to 27.
Officials said investigations were going on to establish the circumstances of the latest deaths. The elephants started dying mysteriously at the beginning August in the Pandamasue Forest between Hwange and Victoria Falls. The Government has since sent specimens to some laboratories outside the country to further investigate the cause of death of the elephants.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority spokesman Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the latest deaths.
“This morning (Friday) officers discovered a dead adult elephant in Victoria Falls Town and we have taken samples from it and they are being investigated in the United Kingdom. We have buried the carcass in order to prevent the further spread of infection to other animals.
We will continue to monitor the situation so that we see if we have any other fatalities in elephants and all other wildlife,” he said.
The other elephant was discovered late on Friday in the Zambezi National Park and Zimparks is still attending to the matter.
Mr Farawo said the death of elephants during this period was also not out of the ordinary during the dry season as elephants travel long distances in search of water and leading to stress and fatigue on the animals and subsequent death.
He also said besides that there may be bacterial infection that could be affecting the jumbos. Veterinary doctors from the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) which partnered Zimparks to investigate the deaths, suspect that bacterium called pasteurella multocida could be the cause of deaths.
The bacteria, which can also affect cattle and chickens killed about 200 000 antelopes in Kazakhstan a few years ago.
Reports are that doctors from VFWT who have been conducting tests said their laboratory in Victoria Falls has no capacity to further investigate the bacterium infection and identified some laboratories in United Kingdom for further research the cause of death.
Botswana has also lost more than 300 elephants from a bacteria that is suspected to be in watering holes where the animals drink and bath from. The elephants died over a course of three months in the Okavango Delta which is home to over 10 percent of the elephant population.
Mr Farawo, however, said he was optimistic on the reopening of the domestic and international tourism sector saying the authority uses funds generated from tourism to fund things like research, conservation, law enforcement and problem animal control. He said the authority also relies on conservation partners they have been working with over the years.
“We are hopeful that October will be a good month for the sector in terms of revenue collection especially after the Covid-19 induced lockdown, we are optimistic on the revival of the sector,” he said. — @NyembeziMu