A strange tragedy has been unfolding in Botswana in Africa. At least 275 elephants have been found dead over the last few months with no clear cause yet discovered.
The Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism issued a statement Thursday about the deaths, saying it has verified 275 elephant carcasses from 356 reported cases. "The ongoing investigations into the deaths of the elephants have revealed no evidence of poaching so far," the ministry reported.
Reuters obtained disturbing images of the some of the deceased animals.
The deaths occurred in the Okavango region of the country. Samples from the bodies are undergoing testing at labs in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada. The results will be compared to veterinarian assessments done in the field.
Elephant poaching is a major problem in Botswana, but the bodies have been found with their tusks intact. "Members of the public are assured that tusks are being removed from the dead elephants, and carcasses within proximity to human settlements continue to be destroyed," the ministry said.
The elephant deaths date back to March. According to CBS News, wildlife conservation charity Elephants Without Borders created a report on the deaths that found elephants of all ages and sex were dying while some still-living elephants appeared to be lethargic, emaciated and disoriented.
Botswana is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants, which the African Wildlife Foundation says is the world's largest elephant population.
The investigation into the deaths is ongoing.