356 dead elephants — killer finally found

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RESTRICTIONS: Broadcast: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN Digital: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN
Because of Coronavirus lockdown rules, the Botswana government had a very delayed reaction to the mysterious large-scale die-off of elephants in the country's national parks. Researchers have now finally confirmed the culprit, a deadly algae that thrived in the drying waterholes of the region.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Botswana on map, zoom in
2. Botswana landscape and biodiversity
3. Landscape littered with many dead elephants
4. Cyanobacteria; close-up and growing in water
5. Cyanobacteria; how it affects water and animals

VOICEOVER (in English):
Botswana is a country known for its pure African landscapes filled with many of Africa's most impressive animals.

The country boasts huge national parks filled with a large number of animals like lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, and also hundreds of elephants.

However, something had recently killed almost 400 of the country's elephants. And this time it wasn't poachers.

Botswana conservationists call it one of the biggest disasters to impact elephants this century, and it happened right in the middle of one of Africa's top tourism destinations.

According to the BBC, investigations into the disaster had been severely hampered by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Scientists have been trying to find out what caused so many elephants to die in such a short time, and now they have found the culprit.

More than two months after the mass die-off was discovered, investigations have now finally revealed that the mysterious deaths were caused by cyanobacteria, a toxic microscopic algae found in larger bodies of blue-green water.

This microscopic organism is what killed 356 elephants in the span of a few weeks.

The bacteria can grow naturally in standing water. Given enough time, they can bloom into algae on a larger scale. If even large animals like elephants ingest enough of this toxic algae, it can kill them.

Scientists warn that climate change could end up making these events more likely in the future.

Park officials say they are investigating how the neurotoxins got into the water. They are also investigating why the algae only killed elephants, and why the deaths occurred only in one area.

SOURCES: BBC, NY Times, Futurism, The Guardian
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54234396
https://futurism.com/hundreds-elephants-suddenly-dropped-dead
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/science/dead-elephants-botswana.html
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/03/why-are-elephants-dying-the-race-to-solve-the-mystery-of-mass-die-offs-aoe