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Drought claims 109 elephants in Kenyan national park over past year

As drought continues to take a toll on livestock and people in East Africa, wildlife in Kenya is dying in large numbers in many protected parks across the country.

 

Carcasses of dead buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and other animals litter the parks attracting scavengers such as vultures and hyenas.

 

The animals are dying due to one of the worst droughts ever to hit East Africa, with experts saying it has been the worst drought experienced in the eastern part of Africa for over 40 years.

 

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Nancy Githaiga, the country director of Africa Wildlife Foundation in Kenya, said that 109 elephants have been recorded dead in the Tsavo National Park, Kenya’s largest, over the past year.

 

“Although cases of poaching have greatly dropped due to surveillance, the number of elephants is now going down significantly because of drought,” she said.

 

“It’s not just elephants, it’s giraffes, zebras, and all wildlife that are dying, you will find their carcasses around.”

 

In the near past, Kenya’s wildlife was facing threats from poachers, but today it is the effects of climate change which deal it the biggest blow.

 

“If we were to look at the numbers of wildlife we lost through poaching in the last few years and what we have lost in the last year through drought, we can’t even make a comparison,” Githaiga said.

 

According to Save the Elephants, a wildlife nongovernmental organization, a wild African female elephant, Moonson, who survived being shot five times by poachers, also died due to the drought in northern Kenya.

 

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CEO of Save the Elephants, said in a statement that it is feared that the drought in Kenya may stretch into 2023.

 

“We are working with our partners, local communities and government in Kenya to address the long-term problems the drought will bring to wildlife and communities alike,” he said.

 

Other wildlife animals dying in large numbers include zebras, buffaloes and giraffes, which are endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

 

Lothika Malemba, a ranger who has worked in the Tsavo National Park for 20 years, told Anadolu Agency that she has never seen such a drought.

 

“Since this year started we have experienced little to no rainfall, the drought has killed many animals in a way that I have never seen before, our water pans and boreholes have all dried up, there is no pasture, we are losing mostly buffaloes, zebras and elephants.”

 

She added that the Grevy’s zebra, the rarest in the world, are also dying in large numbers.

 

As Africa gears to host the Conference of Parties (COP27) summit in Egypt in November, the major discussion will be on environmental loss and damage. Conservationists hope that the key discussions around climate catastrophes will also feature the loss of wildlife to the climate crisis, especially in the East African region.

 

Source: Anadolu Agency