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Researchers figured out why hundreds of elephants dropped dead in Botswana this year: Their water was poisoned by algae

Added 09-23-20 06:14:03pm EST - “Months after 330 elephants inexplicably died in Botswana, officials identified the cause of the die-off: toxic bacteria in their watering holes.” - Businessinsider.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Businessinsider.com: “Researchers figured out why hundreds of elephants dropped dead in Botswana this year: Their water was poisoned by algae”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

"Conservationists on the ground have reported horrific scenes of dying elephants walking around in circles, and others dying flat on their faces," Mark Hiley, co-founder of the conservation organization National Park Rescue, told Business Insider in July.

Researchers considered many possible explanations for the mass die-off — was it poaching? Poison? COVID-19? But they weren't able to pinpoint the pachyderms' cause of death until now.

On Monday, Botswana officials announced the killer: "Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bacteria found in water," Mmadi Reuben, the principal veterinary officer of Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks, said in a press conference.

The algae's toxins affect both humans and animals — they can be inhaled, swallowed, or seep through the skin, leading to gastrointestinal problems, paralysis, and even death in dogs, fish, and cattle.

To figure out what killed them, researchers studied samples collected from the elephant carcasses for months across labs in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, and the US.

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