This isn't the first time anthrax caused mass hippo deaths. Officials say 10 dead hippos were discovered in Bwabwata National Park in northeast Namibia last Sunday, followed by another 99 over the intervening days, per the Namibian. "The cause of death is unknown but the signs so far show that it could be anthrax", Minister for Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta told AFP.
Anthrax is a bacterial disease which is associated with arid climates and known for killing big game, cattle, and sometimes humans.
It's now unclear if there have been more deaths than the reported 109, as local wildlife such as crocodiles and vultures have been consuming the bodies.
There were an estimated 1,300 hippos in Namibia before the latest deaths, so this means a significant proportion of them are affected. "We suspect an anthrax outbreak, but our veterinary team is still to confirm that".
Scientists believe the death toll was particularly high because once hippos started dying, other hippos became cannibals ate the carcasses.
"This is a situation that we have seen before", the Ministry's Director of Parks and Wildlife Management Colgar Sikopo told the New Era newspaper.
Such outbreaks are common in the region, added the official but insisted the disease is unlikely to spread further since the hippos lived in a remote part of the park.
"Over 100 hippos died in the past week".
He also said they are now monitoring the situation, and that the dead hippos are yet to be disposed of.
"We strongly advise that they must not consume this meat", Sikopo said.