Categories: World

Relentless drought kills hundreds of zebras, elephants, wildebeests in Kenya

Elephants were also affected, especially young ones, who are not tall enough to reach higher food sources, it said. In the Amboseli ecosystem, in southwestern Kenya – home to about 1,900 elephants – 76 died; 45 of them were young people who died of malnutrition because “the mothers could not produce enough milk”.

The numbers collected between February and October may be an undercount, the report warned, as the carcasses of animals that died as a result of the drought may have been consumed by predators. It also noted that the landscapes are vast, so researchers “may not have reached every part of the area where wildlife died.”

Zebras feed on grass brought by forest rangers in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve, where hundreds of animals have died due to drought. Credit:AP

The deaths are “a stark reminder of the devastating impact of climate change on biodiversity,” said Sophie le Clue, chief executive of ADM Capital Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization. “The world is facing a biodiversity crisis as we face unprecedented species extinctions worldwide,” she said, adding that the issue is “far from a priority on the political agendas.”

Hannah Mumby, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong whose research focuses on elephants, said that “we need to be aware that extreme events that last for years and cause these massive deaths should be unusual,” but that two other severe droughts have struck Kenya in the past decade.

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“This suggests the climate crisis is unfolding,” she said, “and the implications for biodiversity, livestock and food security are happening now.”


The report recommended the “urgent and immediate” supply of water and licks – a source of minerals – to drought-affected ecosystems. It also called for “improvement” of the hay supply for Grevy’s zebras in the northern region of the country in November and December to cover a wider area.

In the Amboseli ecosystem, an “urgent total aerial wildlife census” should be conducted before the next rainy season – this spring – to evaluate the effects of the drought.

The Washington Post


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