Inquiry into the deaths of 12 elephants in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe’s wildlife authorities have opened an investigation into the deaths of 12 elephants near the Hwange (western) reserve, the country’s largest, a spokesperson said on Sunday.

Eleven elephant carcasses were discovered on Friday and a twelfth on Saturday in the Pandamasuwe forest, between Hwange, near the border with Botswana, and the town of Victoria Falls, according to Tinashe Farawo, spokesperson for the Authority responsible for the National parks.

“We have ruled out tracks such as poaching because the tusks are intact, or cyanide poisoning because no other animal has been affected, including vultures,” he told the AFP.

These are young adults aged 5 to 6 and young people around 18 months old, according to the same source.

The initial findings point to the presence of bacteria because elephants “are in such overpopulation that their favorite vegetation has disappeared and they end up eating anything, including poisonous plants,” Mr. Farawo.

Zimbabwe is home to more than 84,000 elephants, with an estimated capacity of 45,000 to 50,000 individuals.

The Hwange reserve houses between 45,000 and 53,000 for a capacity of 15,000, according to the spokesperson.

The mysterious deaths this year of more than 300 elephants in neighboring Botswana, which has 130,000 roaming free, the world’s largest population, has been attributed to natural toxins.

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