- The outbreak of anthrax among wildlife at the Botswana-Namibia border is now considered to be subsiding by authorities in the two countries. The anthrax outbreak is believed to have started in Botswana's Chobe National Park, of which parts are now closed to the public, killing more than 248 buffalos. From there, it spread into Namibia's Caprivi region. Livestock has not been infested.
According to Jan Broekhuis of Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks, "the outbreak of anthrax in the Chobe National Park is now subsiding." Up to yesterday, a total of 265 animal carcasses have been found of which 248 are buffalo and 12 are elephant. The carcasses of one hippo, one lion, one kudu, one impala and one warthog have also been discovered.
- However, the number of new carcasses is now decreasing and only 8 were discovered yesterday, Mr Broekhuis said in a statement issued by the Department. "Of all the carcasses found to date, 248 have so far been disposed off through burning or burying," he added.
To hinder further spreading of the animal disease, which is lethal to humans, "a small portion" of the Chobe National Park has been closed by Batswana authorities. "The remainder of the park remains open, including the most visited area of the park," Mr Broekhuis emphasised. "Game drives and boat trips in this area adjacent to Kasane are unaffected by the closure," he added.
- Despite media reports to the contrary, Botswana has also not been inundated with cancellations, the spokesman said. "Only few cancellations have been received and the Chobe National Park remains a safe and enjoyable destination."
On the Namibian side of the border, meanwhile, anthrax has so far killed 11 wild animals in the Caprivi. But it had not yet spread to livestock, an official in Namibia's Ministry of Environment yesterday told 'The Namibian'. The Ministry confirmed that five elephants and four buffaloes that were found dead in eastern Caprivi, had anthrax symptoms.
Anthrax is generally of an acute form in wildlife, with animals showing few symptoms before abruptly collapsing and dying. Blood discharge from the mouth, nostril and anus is characteristic of anthrax deaths. Authorities in Namibia and Botswana have warned local residents against eating meat from animals that have died under mysterious circumstances as the disease can infect humans.
Anthrax was also recently reported in Zimbabwe, were hundreds of animals are said to have succumbed to the lethal disease. The disease usually only breaks out among the wildlife population and seldom spreads to livestock.
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