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In the past two months, more than 360 elephant carcasses have been spotted during aerial surveys of wildlife in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.
In the past two months, more than 360 elephant carcasses have been spotted during aerial surveys of wildlife in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.

The spotting of 356 elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta in Botswana has conservationists perplexed and distressed. Elephant carcasses were discovered during two fly-overs by Elephants Without Borders, a Botswana-based conservation group, in May and June. Researchers also saw some elephants behaving abnormally, walking in circles, dragging their hind legs or appearing lethargic.

 

Botswana is home to about a third of the world’s remaining African bush elephant population

 

There were no signs that tusks had been removed, so poaching has been ruled out. Samples taken from the elephants and the soil and water were collected in May and shipped to domestic labs, but no results have been published yet. Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks is collaborating with labs in Canada, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to determine what happened to these elephants and whether it was serious enough to warrant human intervention.

Some conservationists remain deeply concerned, whereas others view this as a natural consequence of Botswana’s growing elephant population, which in 2016 numbered about 130,000 individuals. This is about a third of the world’s remaining African bush elephant population.

Regardless of the circumstances impacting these elephants, the number of deaths does not rise to the level of a conservation crisis, says Dr. Chris Thouless, head of research at the Kenya-based conservation group Save the Elephants. The number of deaths is a fraction of the elephant population of Botswana’s Okavango Delta area, and populations can rebound relatively quickly from such setbacks.

 

 

Oil Nigeria
Nigeria, the largest oil and gas producer in Africa, is expected to have one of the worst GDP contractions on the continent.

 

COVID-19 is expected to curtail much of the economic progress made in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting an average regional GDP shrinkage of 1.6 percent due to a dip in commodity prices. However, five African countries are actually projected to exit the pandemic with positive growth rates, three of which are located in West Africa.

 

Niger and South Africa are seeing some of the worst GDP growth contractions on the continent.

 

Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Guinea, Botswana, and the Seychelles are all predicted to see positive growth rates—between 6.8 and 8.7 percent—in 2021, thanks in part to their economies being largely dependent on the agricultural sector. Nations like Nigeria and South Africa, dependent on oil and raw ore exports, respectively, are seeing some of the worst GDP growth contractions on the continent. Other sectors, such as tourism, transport, and commerce, will still feel the oncoming recession induced by the pandemic, piling on additional public debt burdens on these states.

The combination of existing outstanding debts coupled with these grim economic forecasts has resulted in a chorus of African leaders, including African Union special envoy for infrastructure Raila Odinga, to call for full debt relief.

 

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Nov 23, 2020