MET: Desert Lion XPL-98 died of anthrax

The male desert lion known as XPL-98, whose carcass was found earlier in January 2017 in the Ugab River area, died as a result of Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). The Ministry of Environment and Tourism made this statement yesterday after the discovery of the carcass initially caused a public outcry, mainly on the social media platform facebook.
“Most of the comments and reactions were misinformed and questioned the commitment of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and those involved with the research and monitoring of desert adapted lion in the Kunene and Erongo regions. Many have condemned the Ministry (…),” the statement reads.
In this regard, an autopsy done by Dr. Philip Stander found what appeared to have been extensive bleeding inside the chest cavity of the carcass. The lungs and heart were too decomposed to confirm the cause of the bleeding though. Initially it was thought that the injury could have been caused by a sharp object penetrating the chest between the lion’s ribs, or possibly by a small caliber rifle. As a result, the cause of death of the lion due to human-lion conflict was suspected.
However, to rule out the possible cause of death as result of a disease, soil samples were collected for evaluation of diseases and tests were conducted at the Central Veterinary Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. “The samples tested positive for Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). Blood and tissue samples collected from the lion carcass were also submitted to Central Veterinary Laboratory for further analysis and also tested positive,” the statement reads.
The Ministry assures that measures were taken to ensure no further spread of anthrax from the carcass to other areas or other animals. The carcass was burned and buried as per the advice of the veterinarian immediately after samples were collected. “The Ministry also wishes to appeal to the public, particularly those referring to themselves as environmental activists to refrain from interfering with the processes and activities of the Ministry. We advise and encourage Namibians who genuinely care about wildlife conservation to communicate directly with us using appropriate channels instead of sensationalizing issues such as the death of the Ugab male lion XPL-98 on social media,” the statement continues.

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