Bacterial infection kills 11 young elephants in Zimbabwe

A bacterial infection, possibly from eating poisonous plants, could be the cause of death of 11 elephants in a forest in western Zimbabwe.

The carcasses of the elephants were discovered last week in Pandamasue Forest, located between Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls.

“Food is scarce during this dry season. There is an overpopulation of the animals, so the young ones tend to eat anything and some of the plants are poisonous. It could be a bacterial infection, but we still need to prove it. The scientists are at work,” said Tinashe Farawo, spokesman of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

The dead young elephants were found with the tusks still on their bodies, ruling out poaching. In recent years poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned dozens of elephants with cyanide and then have taken their ivory tusks to sell them to illegal traders.

Investigations will also try to establish if there is a link between the deaths and those reported in neighboring Botswana.

See related story: 360 elephants mysteriously die in Bostwana

Last year about 200 elephants in Zimbabwe died of starvation as a result of the country’s drought.

Zimbabwe argues that it should be allowed to sell some of its elephants to foreign zoos to ease congestion and also raise more money for conservation.