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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : February 2001 : Wild animals dying of unidentified disease

Wild animals dying of unidentified disease

Associated Press
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).



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