26 elephants die in Maasai Mara in three months

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Rangers stand over an elephant's carcass. At least 26 elephants have died in the last 3 months./COURTESY

Maasai Mara, KENYA: 26 elephants have died in the Masaai Mara in the last three months.

According to Mara Elephant Project’s (MEP) November report, out of the 26, 5 were from natural causes while the cause for 11 of the deaths was unknown.

“The Mara elephant deaths account for almost 42% of the total elephant deaths through Dec. 1 in all of 2018,” read the report.

Six deaths were reported in the Triangle and Lamai Wedge in the Northern Serengeti.

MEP is, however, concerned over the rise of number of elephants dying from unknown causes with at least three reported in September.

“The three unknown deaths were elephant carcasses all found in close proximity in protected areas of the Mara ecosystem all within a three-day time period. In all three deaths, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and MEP rangers took samples that were sent to a KWS lab for analysis,” states the report.

“In this instance, we’re looking for evidence that poison was used intentionally to kill these elephants. Other things we may find out is if a strong pesticide is found in their system that may have resulted in the elephant’s death. We may also find out that the elephant died of a natural blood disease,” the report continues to read.

Poisoning

In November, seven elephants were found dead and the cause of death is yet to be known.

“All of our ranger units have been on high alert in the areas where conflict has been up, and this is where we now suspect retaliation poisoning to be the culprit,” said MEP.

“Additionally, all ranger units are looking for any signs while out on their daily patrols of sick elephants, elephants that are sluggish or not eating and drinking along with the herd, in hopes of intervening before it’s too late,” it added.

According to MEP, collaring the elephants would help in deploying rangers to respond to conflict related deaths but say the program is on hold at the moment following a national ban by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on any non-emergency veterinary treatment.

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