Wildlife charities have voiced concern over the unexplained deaths of over 270 elephants in Botswana.
The creatures suddenly collapsed in heaps on the ground from the beginning of May in the Okavango Panhandle region.
The government has yet to explain what happened to the animals, but ruled out poaching, as all carcasses remained intact.
But National Park Rescue is concerned about what it believes are slow progress.
Mark Hiley, co-founder of the National Park Rescue, said today: “Elephants started dying in large numbers in early May and the government would normally respond to an event of this size within a few days.
“Yet here we are, months later, with no tests completed and no more information than we had at the beginning.”
Mass elephant deaths on this scale are almost unprecedented, certainly in Botswana. A potential correlation between these and the coronavirus pandemic has yet to be ruled out.
“You won’t be able to convince the elephants to make social distancing, and you won’t be able to inoculate them,” said Chris Thouless, head of research at Save the Elephants.
But the professional does not believe that the authorities are dragging their feet.
He continued: “This is a rather remote country, hearing about the carcasses, entering there, taking a whole series of samples, knowing how and where to take them, … it’s a rather difficult task”.
Mmadi Reuben, chief veterinarian of the Wildlife and National Parks Department, said: “A government investigation team has been on the field since the first cases were reported. Botswana responded quickly.
“We sent samples [following tests] in Zimbabwe and South Africa to test other known pathogens or a new pathogen. “
The coronavirus crisis had delayed some samples leaving the country.
Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants a third of Africa’s total, making it a magnet for wildlife lovers.