Hundreds of elephants are suddenly and mysteriously dying in Africa

elephant elephants dying africa botswana getty (3).jpg
A large dead elephant lies on the ground. (FILE: Getty Images)

At least 275 elephants are confirmed dead in the southern African country of Botswana -- which has the world's largest elephant population -- and investigators do not know why, according to an international news report.

Poaching has been ruled out as the dead elephants were found with their tusks in the famous Okavango Delta, which is home to an estimated 15,000 elephants. Botswana as a whole has 130,000 elephants.

There are reports that as many as 356 elephants are dead -- but Cyril Taolo, acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told AFP news agency that they've only been able to confirm 275 of those deaths so far.

Taolo says:

We do not suspect poaching since [the] animals were found with [their] tusks."

Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks is now investigating by sending people and aircraft to "better understand the situation."

Labs in Canada, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are analyzing samples from the dead elephants, but no results have reported.

In May, a similar incident happened when 12 elephants were found dead in a two-week period.

Elephants Without Borders (EWB), a conservation charity, reports 356 deaths, which they suspect has been happening over a three-month period.

EWB's Jun 19 report says:

70 percent of elephant carcasses were considered recent, having died about a month ago, and 30 percent of the carcasses appeared fresh, ranging from one day to two weeks old. There was good evidence to show elephants of all ages and sex appear to be dying. One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members."

EWB noted other elephants appeared weak, lethargic and emaciated while being disoriented.