February 28, 2001
ARUSHA, Tanzania - Seven of the 17 rare black rhinoceros in the
world-famous Ngorongoro crater and six lions have died from unidentified
causes, an official said Wednesday.
Several hundred other animals are believed to have died from lack
of water during a prolonged drought in the area in northern Tanzania.
Emmanuel Chausi, conservator of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Authority, said an 11-member team from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa
and the United States began working last week to investigate the
cause of death of the animals whose habitat is the floor of the
collapsed crater of an extinct volcano.
The drought-affected include 323 Cape buffalo, 193 wildebeest,
69 zebra, three antelope and three hippopotamus, the remains of
which were found near water points.
Five of the rhinos died last May, and two others died within 10
days of each other in January, Chausi said.
''We dont know source of the deaths, but early samples indicate
that it is Babesiosis,'' he said.
The tick-borne disease is caused by the Babesia parasite that attacks
red blood cells that supply oxygen to animals.
Babesiosis is common in animals but rare in humans.
He said researchers were fairly sure that the lions did not die
of canine distemper, a disease that killed of them in the adjacent
Serengeti National Park in 1994. There are about 68 lions remaining
in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers some 8,300 square
kilometers (3,320 square miles).