On October 12, 2022, elephant keeper Kiapi Lakupanai plays with two calves in the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary at the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in Samburu, Kenya. Due to the present drought, rescue activities and the flood of orphaned and abandoned calves have overrun the refuge. LUIS TATO/AFP courtesy of Getty Images
According to a report issued on Friday, hundreds of animals, including elephants and rare Grevy’s zebras, perished in Kenyan wildlife preserves amid East Africa’s worst drought in decades.
In the preceding nine months, the Kenya Wildlife Service and other organizations recorded the deaths of 205 elephants, 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 51 buffaloes, 49 Grevy’s zebras, and 12 giraffes, according to the study.
In the previous two years, parts of Kenya have endured four consecutive seasons with little precipitation, with devastating consequences for people and animals, particularly cattle.
The study reads, “The drought has resulted in a large loss of animal populations due to death and likely migration to other locations.”
30 September 2022: A herd of zebras in Tsavo National Park, Taita-Taveta County, Kenya. As the drought in East Africa continues to take its toll on cattle and people, wildlife in Kenya’s protected parks is dying in increasing numbers. Andrew Wasike/Agence Anadolu via Getty Images
It states that the drought has badly affected animal numbers, notably wildebeest and zebra. The majority of impacted wild animal species are herbivores.
Amboseli, Tsavo, and Laikipia-Samburu are among the most visited national parks, reserves, and conservancies in Kenya, according to the authors of the research.
They demanded an immediate airborne census of Amboseli’s species to have a deeper understanding of the effects of the drought on the region’s fauna.
Other specialists have suggested the urgent distribution of water and salt licks in affected areas. According to Jim Justus Nyamu, executive director of the Elephant Neighbors Center, elephants consume 240 liters (63.40 gallons) of water every day. For Grevy’s zebras, experts recommend increasing hay supplies.
This week, Kenya’s Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage Peninah Malonza tweeted photos from her visit to Tsavo East National Park and spoke about the government’s efforts to address the issue, including animal feeding programs, trucking water to wildlife in protected areas, and increasing monitoring of wildlife outside protected areas to reduce human-animal conflicts.
1/4 Today, I visited Tsavo East National Park to highlight the drought mitigating measures being taken by the Ministry to protect wildlife. Reduced availability of water and fodder, as well as an increase in human-wildlife conflict, are repercussions of drought. #wildlifeKE picture from Twitter: 3yQXnsV25J
— Hon. Peninah Malonza (@peninah malonza) November 1, 2022
According to the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations, this is the area’s longest drought in forty years, and over fifty million people in the region are facing severe food insecurity.