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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : February 2001 : Team probes Tanzania rhino deaths

Team probes Tanzania rhino deaths

Associated Press
February 28, 2001

ARUSHA, Tanzania - U.S. and African wildlife experts are investigating the mysterious death of seven of the 17 rare black rhinoceros living in a Tanzanian wildlife sanctuary, an official said Wednesday.

The rhinos died in the 3,320-square mile Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, five of them in May and two others in January, said Emmanuel Chausi, conservator for the area.

The conservation area, site of the Ngorongoro crater--the collapsed floor of an extinct volcano that is the rhino's habitat--has also seen several hundred other animals die during a prolonged drought.

Chausi said the 11-member team from the United States, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa arrived last week to investigate the cause of death of the rhinos.

''We don't 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.

Lack of water from the drought is believed to have killed the other animals, including 323 Cape buffalo, 193 wildebeest, 69 zebra, three antelope and three hippopotamus. The remains of the animals were found near water sources.

The total number of black rhinos across southern and eastern Africa was about 65,000 in 1970 but hunting left only some 2,300 alive in the early 1990s. Since then conservation efforts have brought their numbers to around 2,700.



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