East Africa is enduring its worst drought in 40 years and Kenyan wildlife can be bearing the brunt.
Drought in Kenya killed 205 elephants and various other wildlife between February and October as much of East Africa endures its worst drought in 40 years, tourism minister Peninah Malonza said on Friday.
Although sporadic rainfall has finally began within the region, Kenya’s meteorological department is forecasting below-average rainfall for much of the country for the approaching months, raising fears that the threat to Kenya’s wildlife is just not over.
“The drought has caused mortality of wildlife … due to depletion of food resources in addition to water shortages,” Malonza, the cupboard secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, told a news conference.
Fourteen species have been affected by the drought, she said.
Along with the dead elephants, 512 wildebeest, 381 common zebra, 12 giraffes, and 51 buffalo have also succumbed to the drought over the identical period – some within the national parks which can be a serious tourist draw for the country.
There have also been 49 deaths of the rare and endangered Grevy’s zebra.
In September, conservation group Grevy’s Zebra Trust said that 40 Grevy’s had died in only a three-month period due to drought, representing nearly 2 percent of the species’ population.
The figures released on Friday are likely removed from comprehensive, the ministry warned in a report, saying carnivores could have devoured some carcasses.
“Thus, there may be a possibility of upper mortality,” the report said.
News of the toll on wildlife in Kenya, where tourism contributes about 10 percent of economic output and employs over 2 million people, comes just days before the beginning of the UN climate conference, COP27.
Egypt, the conference host, has made the difficulty of “loss and damage”, compensation for losses from climate-related disasters, a spotlight of the talks. The problem has never been a part of the UN talks’ formal agenda, despite being debated for years, as wealthy countries have resisted making a funding mechanism that would suggest liability for historic climate damages.
The areas most affected by the drought are to the north and south of Kenya, home to the majority of Kenya’s elephant population.
Last month, the charity Save the Elephants said one famed calf, well-known for being a twin, a rarity for elephants, died through the drought.
The ministry really helpful providing vulnerable wildlife groups with water, salt licks, and food and to extend monitoring and data collection.