The number of elephants that have been found dead in a forest in western Zimbabwe has risen to 22, a cabinet minister said Tuesday.

Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said that rangers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) used drones and found more elephants dead in Pandamasue Forest between Hwange and Victoria Falls.

Zimparks first discovered 11 elephants dead in the forest last Friday.

“Scientists have collected samples to try and understand what could be the cause of death. Anthrax has been ruled out and it will take us time to have conclusive results on the real cause of death,” the minister said.

“We have engaged private specialists and we are expecting that we should be getting preliminary results as early as tomorrow (Wednesday).”

He said bacteria plant was being suspected to be the cause of death but until rigorous tests are done this can not be confirmed.

“Currently there are no conclusive results but we are quite worried about the development which has taken place,” Ndlovu said.

Neighboring Botswana recently lost about 400 elephants under mysterious circumstances.

Last year, about 200 elephants died in Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve, Hwange National Park, due to drought.

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