Kenya’s worst drought in decades kills more than 200 elephants

Drought in Kenya kills more than 200 elephants
The carcass of an elephant that died during the drought is seen in the Shaba National Reserve, Isiolo county, Kenya, September 22, 2022, credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

The worst drought in Kenya in four decades has killed over 200 elephants, almost 400 zebras and more than 500 gnus, the country’s tourism minister, Peninah Malonza, said on Friday during a press conference in Nairobi.

“The drought has caused mortality of wildlife, mostly herbivore species,” Malonza said. “The mortalities have arisen because of depletion of food resources as well as water shortages.”

“Elephants in the Amboseli and Laikipia-Samburu regions are the worst affected by the drought, as the ecosystems there have recorded more than 70 elephant deaths,” Malonza said, adding that authorities are dropping off hay for the animals.

Four straight rainy seasons have failed in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, causing one of the worst droughts in the area. From February to October, authorities recorded the death of 512 gnus, 381 zebras, 205 elephants, 51 buffalos and 12 giraffes in Kenya because of the drought.

“Africa contributes less than three percent of the pollution responsible for climate change, but it’s most severely impacted by the ensuing crisis,” Kenyan President William Ruto told world leaders on Monday during the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Egypt.

“Carcasses of elephants, zebras, wildebeest and many other wild fauna litter our parks,” he said, adding the government has spent $3 million on providing feed and water to animals in distress in the last three months. He added that more than 2.5 million cows and sheep have died in Kenya alone.

Ruto called the crushing impacts of climate change a “living nightmare” for people across Africa. The UN warned Somalia is on the brink of a hunger crisis again within a decade.

In February, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that tens of millions of Africans would be affected by a future marked by drought, disease and displacement due to global heating.

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