Crisis looms as dozens of elephants die in Zimbabwe

Source: Crisis looms as dozens of elephants die in Zimbabwe

An elephant that died due to drought in Hwange National Park. Photo: © Privilege Musvanhiri

Harare, Zimbabwe  — Elephants and other wildlife are dying in Zimbabwe, as an extended dry season has reduced once abundant water holes, to muddy puddles.

Summer rains are five weeks late due to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, as dozens of elephants have already died in Hwange National Park, the county’s largest protected area home to about 45,000 elephants. At least 100 elephants are already reported dead due to lack of water.

“Elephants and other wildlife species will face a crisis if the rains don’t come soon,” says Phillip Kuvawoga, Landscape Programme Director of IFAW.

“In 2019, over 200 elephants died in Zimbabwe due to severe drought; this phenomenon is recurring.”

Despite having 104 solar-powered boreholes, park authorities say it isn’t enough and no match for extreme temperatures drying up existing waterholes, forcing wildlife to walk long distances searching for food and water. Water-dependent mammals like elephants are among the most affected.

News of the tragedy comes during COP28, while global leaders gather to determine ambition and responsibilities and identify and assess climate measures at the global climate change conference in Dubai.

IFAW’s agenda at COP28 advocates for wildlife conservation as a nature-based solution to tackling climate change.

“Wild animals protect the carbon already stored in nature, prevent it from being released into the atmosphere, and help nature soak up and store even more carbon,” says Kuvawoga.

The devastating impact of climate change on wildlife and humans calls for an integrated and holistic approach to support climate-resilient landscapes and communities.

“The anticipated deaths of elephants and other species, such as we are seeing in Zimbabwe right now, must be seen as a symptom of deep-seated and complex challenges affecting the region’s natural resources conservation, aggravated by climate change.”