After hearing about the tragic and mysterious deaths of over 350 elephants in the Okavango Delta region in Botswana in 2020, Elephant Gin released a remembrance edition bottle of London Dry Gin to support the ongoing research.
15% of the profit from each bottle sold supported Elephants Without Borders (EWB), a wildlife conservation organisation in Botswana, which contributed to the flight project to spot and record the incidents. Some of the animals appeared to have died suddenly, collapsing chest-first while walking or running. No tusks were removed, suggesting that poaching for ivory may not be to blame.
Researchers from EWB, that conducted the flights documenting the problem, observed some live elephants that appeared to be disoriented, including one that was walking in circles. Others were dragging their hind legs, as though paralysed, and still others appeared lethargic and emaciated. Males and females, young and old, all seem equally affected.
The most up-to-date research concludes that the elephants died from ingesting cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are toxic bacteria which can occur naturally in standing water and sometimes grow into large blooms known as blue-green algae. Scientists warn that climate change may be making these incidents – known as toxic blooms – more likely, because they favour warm water.