Mystery of why hundreds of elephants dropped dead

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) with a baby elephant...
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) with a baby elephant...

Hundreds of elephants have been found dead in Botswana - and experts don't know why they died.

The animals, numbering more than 360, died in mysterious circumstances during the past three months, according to conservationists working in the southern African nation.

Some carcasses were found clustered around waterholes, while others appeared to have died "falling flat on their faces," said Niall McCann, director of conservation at UK charity National Park Rescue.

Sharing an article in The Guardian, he tweeted: "A catastrophic die-off of elephants is happing in northern Botswana, and no one knows why.

"It's vital that a team of independent experts visit and sample the carcasses before any more elephants die, or this spills over into the local human population."

Live elephants seen nearby appeared physically weak, observers said. Other species in the area did not appear to have been affected by whatever struck down the elephants.

"One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members," according to a report by wildlife conservation charity Elephants Without Borders.

While the Botswana government is still testing samples from the dead elephants, poaching has already been ruled out as all the animals still had their tusks.