Nairobi, Jan 22 – Five elephants found dead in the Olarro Conservancy and the surrounding areas in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve this month could have consumed vegetation or water that contained poisonous insecticides, according to the conservancy.

“With the rise in the number of plantations of vegetables and crops in the area, the volume of crop insecticides has risen and it is suspected that these may be, in some part, potentially responsible for the illness or deaths caused in the recent elephant mortalities found within the area,” the conservancy said in a social media post.

One of the elephants, a young bull, was found dead by rangers on January 9. Its tusks were intact and it had no signs of injury. Rangers on patrol found the carcass of a second young bull on January 15 in a similar condition. The carcass of an older bull, also with its tusks intact, was discovered on January 16.

The carcasses of two mature female elephants were found on January 21. They too had no visible signs of injury.The Olarro Conservancy officials reported that they had consulted veterinary services and that the preliminary observation was that there are pesticides that the animals could have consumed in various ways — through contaminated water or direct crop ingestion — that could have led to the death of some of the elephants.

Veterinarians, including some from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), will carry out post mortem tests on the carcasses of the dead pachyderms and issue a report on the possible cause of death, according to Olarro.

The conservancy also reported that more than 25 elephants were treated for wounds inflicted with bullets, arrows or spears in areas around Olarro over the past eight months.

“There are huge efforts to mitigate these incidents by all parties involved and the communities are assisting greatly with information of elephant crop invasions and movements, amongst other conflicts with various species of wildlife, allowing the authorities and conservation bodies to respond swiftly,” the conservancy said.