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Strange disease kills 8 elephants in northern Tanzania

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The elephants in the Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s only protected savannah region, seem safe from diseases and poachers. Xinhua

ARUSHA (Xinhua) – A strange disease has killed eight elephants in northern Tanzania’s district of Ngorongoro.

Joseph Meng’oro, Deputy Wildlife Officer at the Ngorongoro District Council, expressing his worry over the disease, warned that, more deaths could occur unless the source of the disease is tracked down.

“The jumbos, which started to haemorrhage through their trunks, collapsed due to blood loss and eventually died in Arash Ward, in the district,” said Mr Meng’oro.

Fidelis ole Kashe, an officer with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), said the jumbos werer spotted by villagers loitering aimlessly in the area before they collapsed and died.

The carcasses of the eight elephants, upon a preliminary post mortem, showed severe bleeding of trunks, and unusual-looking stools, while reports revealed that before death, they moved around as if they were drunk before collapsing.”

Scientists at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), based in Arusha have taken samples and specimens to determine the cause of the elephants death. This is the first time such a case has been detected in Tanzania.

Samples of blood from the carcasses of elephants found dead in Loliondo were taken to the Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA) center of Arusha.

The TVLA Test Report Number, as approved by Paul Sanka at the Laboratory, indicated that the ‘Microscopical Examinations,’ samples using Polychrome Methylene Blue Stain were ‘negative of anthrax,’ as many assumed anthrax to be the cause of the deaths.

Some observers however suggest more tests should be done on the elephant remains, as it is possible that poachers could be using stealth poisonous chemicals to hunt down the jumbos for their ivories.

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