October 21, 2019

Drought threatens Zimbabwe`s elephant herd

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Leroy Dzenga

Effects of the drought facing Zimbabwe are being felt in the country’s wildlife sector, with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority saying that the elephant herd is under threat from water shortages.

ZimParks Public Relations Manager Tinashe Farawo told ZTN that adverse weather effects are now the biggest threat to the country’s wildlife, with the recent death toll reaching 55.

“Over the last two months, we have lost at least 55 elephants due to starvation. Most of these elephants are dying within 50 metres of a water source. At first we thought it was anthrax and poisoning but all tests came back negative. We did further investigations and found out that elephants are dying because of starvation, our elephants have to move long distances in search of water and food. The situation is bad but we are doing everything in our power to make sure there are more boreholes and we are in the process of de-sealing water sources at Hwange national park,” Farawo said.

ZimParks believes the current elephant population is unsustainable, especially in the face of climate change.

“We need to manage the numbers. We are battling a serious problem in Hwange, it is not only elephants that are dying. As you may know elephants knock down trees and there are bird species which require heights to breed, that has threatened that particular species,” said Farawo.

Zimbabwe currently has more elephants than it can hold.

This has been causing human wildlife conflict, a direct effect of habitat disruption. These starvation deaths are reversing the gains made in Zimbabwe’s fight against poaching. In 2013 Zimbabwe lost over 500 elephants to poaching and in 2018, Zimbabwe lost 12.

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