The sudden death of several elephants in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip has fuelled speculation that anthrax has again broken out in the area. Local media reported this week that four elephant had died under suspicious circumstances, with more casualties reported just over the border in Botswana. Two years ago an outbreak of anthrax in the Caprivi region claimed the lives of hundreds of livestock, as well as wild animals. The most recent news of a possible anthrax outbreak comes on top of a foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemic in the region that was discovered in November last year. Since that time the only abattoir in Katima Mulilo has been closed.
The total loss to local farmers because of the FMD outbreak is estimated to exceed R20 million for this year alone. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has dispatched a team to the area to probe the anthrax scare, while state veterinarians in Katima Mulilo are considering investigating the elephant carcasses for traces of the disease. Locals who ate the elephant meat could have been exposed to the deadly infection. Meanwhile, villagers in the FMD affected region have complained about the ban on transporting grass. At this time of year many villagers make an income selling grass for the thatching industry. – Servaas van den Bosch