Quantcast

55 Elephants Have Died in 2 Months From Unprecedented Zimbabwe Drought, Wildlife Agency Says

Animals
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.



The deaths occurred in Zimbabwe's largest national park, Hwange National Park, a game park. Some died while searching for water, others by residents of nearby communities where the elephants strayed in search of food, said Tinashe Farawo, spokesman for Zimbabwe's Parks and Wild Life Management Authority said, as CNN reported.

The game reserve has the country's largest population of elephants with nearly 50,000. Investigations showed that at least 55 died from food and water shortages in the park, according to Reuters. Several of the deceased elephants were found within 50 meters of water pans, which suggests that traveled long distances and died just before reaching the water, according to the BBC.

"The problem is real, the situation is dire," said Farawo, as the AP reported.

Farawo said that the park, which does not receive funding from the government, has been trying to drill watering holes, but it has run out of money to continue, as the BBC reported.

The BBC also reported that the water shortage is not the only problem. The park has too many elephants, which has caused fierce competition for limited resources, massive destruction to the park's vegetation and forced many elephants to stray into nearby communities. Officials say that elephants have killed more than 200 people in the last five years and 22 local villagers this year.

"Hwange was meant for 15,000 elephants but at the moment we are talking of more than 50,000," Farawo said, as the AFP reported.

Hwange's overpopulation problem stands in stark contrast to the rest of Africa where the ivory trade has decimated the number of elephants on the continent. Africa's elephant numbers have fallen from near 415,000 to 111,000 in just the past decade, according to according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the AFP reported.

Farawo said an elephant mauled a man to death after the villager tried to chase the animal, which stepped into his garden to drink water.

"That's why we are saying allow us to trade in these animals, and we can raise funds for their security and food. But the so-called conservationists condemn us," said Farawo as CNN reported.

However, that often shadowy practice, received criticism from wildlife experts who say young elephants have been torn from their families, traumatized and sent to unsuitable Chinese zoos, as the BBC reported.

Critics have blamed the government for exacerbating the water crisis in the park.

"The government has over the years been allowing mines to develop in Hwange and that's reducing grazing land, and those operations have impact on water. Even polluting the water. So the government is squarely to blame for all this," said Lenin Chisaira, director of Advocates4Earth, which challenges selling elephants to Asian countries, to CNN.

It's not just Hwange that needs water. The area around the park desperately needs rain. The AFP reported that the UN has warned that more than five million rural Zimbabweans — nearly a third of the population — are at risk of food shortages before the next harvest in 2020. That is in a addition to the two million people in Harare, the nation's capital, which is facing a crisis of clean water that may lead to disease outbreak, as EcoWatch reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The European Investment Bank will stop lending for fossil fuel projects. ForgeMind Archimedia / CC BY 2.0

By Eoin Higgins

Climate activists celebrated Thursday the decision of the European Investment Bank to stop funding most oil and coal projects by 2021, part of a bid to be the world's first "climate bank."

Read More Show Less
Campaigners from Friends of the Earth Scotland gather to demand clean air in August 2015. MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Air pollution particles from motor vehicle exhaust have been linked to brain cancer for the first time, researchers at McGill University in Montreal say.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A measure that would fine parents who refuse to vaccinate their children passed Germany's parliament Thursday. Self Magazine / CC BY 2.0

A measure that would fine parents who refuse to vaccinate their children for measles close to $2,800 passed Germany's parliament Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
A flooded St. Mark's square (Piazza San Marco) during a new exceptional high tide on Nov. 15 in Venice, Italy. Simone Padovani / Awakening / Getty Images

The historic "acqua alta" that swamped Venice Tuesday night also flooded the Veneto regional council for the first time, just moments after it had apparently rejected measures to address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less