The Duke and Duchess of Sussex received some sad news on Thursday after it was revealed that more than 360 elephants have died from mysterious causes in Botswana.
Africa holds a very special place in the couple’s hearts. Meghan and Harry took their first trip there together back in 2017 to work with Elephants Without Borders – a charity which helps prevent elephants from being poached and killed for their ivory tusks.
It is also where Prince Charles took Harry and Prince William after the death of their mother Princess Diana in 1997, in a bid to help them with their grief.
According to reports, hundreds of elephant carcasses have been found around waterholes in the southern African country. Dr Niall McCann, director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue, told the BBC that local conservationists first alerted the government in early May, after they undertook a flight over the Okavango Delta.
“They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight,” he said. “To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary. A month later, further investigations identified many more carcasses, bringing the total to over 350.” He added: “This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought.”
The Botswana government is testing samples from the dead elephants but is yet to determine a cause of death.
Last year, Botswana lifted the ban on elephant hunting, which was first introduced in 2014 by former president Ian Khama. However, lawmakers from the ruling Botswana Democratic party lobbied to overturn the ban because they believed that the number of animals became unmanageable in some areas.
Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, and have over 100,000 roaming freely in the country’s unfenced parks and open spaces.