Southern Africa faces rise in elephant deaths due to drought

Southern African nations, home to the world’s largest elephant population, are bracing for a surge in animal deaths due to a severe drought. 

The region experienced a scorching dry season linked to El Nino, a Pacific Ocean warming phenomenon intensifying the effects of climate change.

This drought threatens water and food supplies for humans, livestock, and wildlife. 

Zimbabwe lost 160 elephants in Hwange National Park alone by January 2024, and Botswana reported 300 elephant deaths last year. 

Zambia also confirmed elephant fatalities, with its Environment Minister calling the drought “devastating.”

The Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, encompassing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Angola, and Namibia, is home to over 227,000 elephants. 

These countries are currently meeting in Zambia to discuss sustainable wildlife management.

“Drying waterholes and scarce food will lead to more carcasses in the parks,” warned Zambia’s Environment Minister.

Efforts are underway. Zimbabwe allocated $3 million to boost water supplies in national parks, but wildlife officials say it’s insufficient. 

Solar-powered boreholes are being installed, but the situation remains critical.

Climate change is exacerbating human-wildlife conflict, with elephants venturing into human settlements in search of sustenance. 

Last year, Zimbabwe tragically lost 50 people to elephant attacks.

Experts like Philip Kuvawoga from the International Fund for Animal Welfare highlight the heightened threat of food shortages and wildfires due to the drought, posing a significant risk to wildlife.

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