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Botswana Probes Mysterious Deaths of at least 154 Elephants

Regional wildlife co-ordinator Dimakatso Ntshebe said carcasses were found intact, suggesting they were not poached. Further investigations have also ruled out poisoning by humans and anthrax, which sometimes hits wildlife in this part of Botswana. Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching, but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to 130,000 from 80,000 in the late 1990s. However, they are seen as a growing nuisance by farmers, whose crops have been destroyed by the animals roaming the southern African country. Last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a five-year ban on big game hunting, imposed by previous president Ian Khama. But the hunting season failed to take off in April as global travel restrictions meant hunters from many coronavirus-hit countries could not enter Botswana. Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department has undertaken an operation to relocate and dehorn all rhinos to tackle poaching – mirroring efforts elsewhere in the region.