Elephants in grave danger

Elephants in the country’s largest National Park are at serious risk as water and food shortages bite.

Elephants are dying on a daily basis due to the current heat wave.
Elephants are dying on a daily basis due to the current heat wave.

Wildlife conservationists who spoke to The Zimbabwean said the current heat wave had worsened the situation in the park where jumbos and buffaloes are reportedly dying every day due to thirst and stress.

“Elephants and other wild animals are competing for water at the few remaining water sources in the park. To worsen the situation, veld fires have destroyed grass and edible trees for elephants. Elephants are now travelling to neighbouring Botswana in search of food and water,” said Helen Martin, a wild life conservationist doing research in the area.

Martin said of the 10 water holes in the giant national park, only three were functioning.

“Most of the water holes in the park have dried up. I went around the water holes last week and saw decomposing carcases of elephants and buffaloes strewn all over the place. Disaster is looming if the rains do not fall within the next few days,” she said.

A National Park and Wildlife Management Authority worker at the main camp also told The Zimbabwean that several elephants had died this week at Guvalala and Tchabema water holes. The worker said the diesel –powered boreholes which NPWMA installed during the height of the 2002 draught were failing to cope with the desperate situation.

“There is chaos in the park. The pumps are few and they are pumping very little water, which is not enough for the thousands of elephants in the park,” said the worker.

Hwange national park is believed to be home to about 70 000 elephants, against a holding capacity of 30 000. NPWMA spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo, could not be reached for comment.

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