Zebras, elephants among hundreds dead in Kenya due to drought
The report provides insight into the impact of years of drought on the region’s wildlife, as the UN and other organizations have warned for months about the humanitarian impact.
“In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster,” said Gulaid Artan, director of the World Meteorological Organization’s East Africa Climate Center. said in August This season is the region’s “fifth consecutive failed rainy season,” he said.
Kenya Tourism and Wildlife Secretary Penina Malonza, said at a news conference Friday that the country is stepping in to provide grass, water and “enhanced wildlife control outside protected areas to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.”
The figures come as world leaders gather in Egypt on Sunday for COP27, the UN’s annual climate change conference. United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina J. op-ed: that “worsening climate chaos is wreaking havoc” on the continent.
Of the 430 zebras killed by the drought, 49 are Grevy’s zebras, an endangered species, with around 3,000 estimated to remain in the wild. according to Grevy’s Zebra Trust, which assisted with data collection for the report. The report said the deaths are occurring despite feeding programs in the area.
Zebras and wildebeests have been particularly affected by the drought, the report said.
Elephants, especially young ones not tall enough to reach higher food sources, have also been hit, it said. In the Amboseli ecosystem in southwestern Kenya, home to about 1,900 elephants, 76 died; 45 of them are minors who died of malnutrition because “mothers could not produce enough milk.”
Figures collected between February and October may be an undercount, the report warns, as the carcasses of animals killed by the drought may have been consumed by predators. It also noted that the landscapes are vast, so researchers “may not have access to all parts of the area where wildlife has died.”
The deaths are “a stark reminder of the devastating impact of climate change on biodiversity,” said Sophie Le Clew, executive director of the ADM Capital Foundation, an environmental nonprofit. “The world is facing a biodiversity crisis as we face unprecedented global species extinctions,” he said, adding that the issue was “far from high on the political agenda.”
Professor Hannah Mumby of the University of Hong Kong, whose research focuses on elephants, said “we need to be aware that extreme events that last for years and cause these huge mortality impacts must be unusual”, but that two more severe a drought has struck. Kenya in the last decade.
“This suggests that the climate crisis is happening,” he said, “and the impacts on biodiversity, livestock and food security are happening now.”
The report recommends an “urgent and immediate” supply of water and salt licks, a source of minerals, in drought-affected ecosystems. It also called for “strengthening” the supply of grass for Grevy’s zebras in the northern region of the country in November and December to cover a wider area.
In the Amboseli ecosystem, it said an “urgent general aerial census of wildlife” should be conducted before the next rainy season, this spring, to assess the effects of the drought.
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