Hundreds of elephants, wildebeests and zebras dead in Kenya amid prolonged drought
An estimated 1.6 million elephants and 3.3 million fallow cows and goats are at the brink of starvation, as a prolonged drought has made their traditional pastures in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater near the border in southern Kenya, and in parts of Rwanda, too, are drying up and turning to mud.
The African Parks Foundation, an elephant conservation charity, has warned that unless the drought stops, many millions of elephants will die as they search for scarce water in the vast and unforgiving African grasslands.
So far, the rains in the Serengeti have fallen in the wet season, when the wildebeests and elands of Serengeti, Kenya and Tanzania usually graze, the main food source of the elephants.
But the rains have failed to fall all season in central and southern Kenya, where the rains normally fall from November to May as they move south and dry before moving back north.
The area around Lake Victoria in the south is one of the most arid parts of the country and remains at risk of drought, partly because so much wood is burned to maintain the heat needed to dry the soil. The rains in the dry season depend on the rains in the wet season, but that is far from certain.
“It’s all happening in the wrong order,” said the foundation’s chief executive, Jean-Pierre Chirwa. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the rainy season, the dry season, the hot dry season or the rainy hot dry season, it’s always the same pattern, which means that if we don’t get the rains, it will end up being very difficult to recover from the impact of lack of water on an already stressed population.”
The foundation is among a small number of charities that work with elephants and whose work has become more and more urgent as the elephants’ numbers