Severe Drought in Kenya Threatens Wildlife

Kenya is on the brink of a fifth failed rainy season with a good chance that the country will continue to experience drier-than-average weather conditions for the rest of the year. Kenya has been undergoing a two year drought which has killed 2% of the world’s Grevy Zebras, as well as increased elephant deaths due to the climate crisis taking a toll on east African wildlife. According to the UN, this is the region’s worst drought in 40 years, putting in danger the local wildlife and surrounding communities by depleting the food and water resources. Additionally, poaching for bushmeat has increased due to this unprecedented dry spell chipping away at essential resources severely affecting the alternative sources of income that rely on this supply.

Grevy’s zebras grazing El Barta region, Lkotikal plains, Kenya.

The Grevy zebra, the rarest of all zebra species, has suffered enormously from this drought. Belinda Low Mackey, Founder and Executive Director of the Grevy Zebra Trust (GZT), explained that “If the approaching rainy season fails, Grevy’s zebra face a very serious threat of starvation.” GZT has already witnessed the loss of 58 Grevy Zebra and mortality cases will only rise as it intensifies.

Elephants drinking water in a dried river bed.

Frank Pope, Chief Executive Officer of Save The Elephants (STE), has witnessed elephant herds splitting up into small units as they try to manage to survive. “Calves are being abandoned, and elderly elephants are dying. Without rain, others will soon follow,” Pope states. Additionally, as food and water sources are becoming scarce, elephants are forced to come into close contact with humans as they chase the same resources increasing human-wildlife conflict.

Group of Grevy ‘s Zebra eating hay as a supplementary food source.

As the drought persists, GZT and STE are concentrating on alternative solutions to assist in relieving the pressures from the lack of resources. On average, GZT is providing 1,500 hay bales as a supplementary food source that not only feeds the Grevy Zebras, but also the neighboring species like oryx and buffalo. STE is focusing on assisting the local communities affected by stray elephants and providing aid during human-wildlife conflict. 

Learn more about the detrimental effects the drought is causing in Kenya here

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