Many elephants are dying due to drought in Kenya

Many elephants are dying due to drought in Kenya

Last year, Kenya lost 62 elephants in five months due to drought, even as the Wildlife Ministry prepared to build water pans in National Parks to prevent further deaths.

Najib Balala, the Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, told parliament that the elephants disappeared between August and December 2021.

“From August to December, 62 elephants died as a result of the drought. Mr Balala told the National Assembly’s Finance Committee that “we are rushing to establish water pans in our parks, particularly Tsavo, which is the most affected.”

He claimed that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) does not have enough funds to build water pans in drought-stricken areas.

“We as the Tourism Promotion Fund (TPF) are currently considering a request from the State Department for Wildlife of Sh200 million for the establishment of water pans, drilling of boreholes, dams and provision of water in Tsavo National Park,” Mr Balala said.

Mr Balala said the Fund, meant for tourism promotion activities would intervene and allocate monies for the provision of water services to starving wildlife.

“We are considering the requests given the loss of 62 elephants due to drought within a period of four months,” Mr Balala told the committee.

Mr Balala said revenues generated by the KWS dropped from Sh4 billion annually to Sh1 billion following the Covid-19 economic fallout.

“We are struggling to pay their salaries and we are working to achieve our objectives as a sector,” Mr Balala said.

Parliament last year directed the National Treasury to set aside Sh3.2 billion to cover salaries and operations of KWS staff following the decline in revenue collection from park fees on account of coronavirus.

The State Department for Wildlife had warned that KWS would collect about 20% of the projected Sh4.6 billion annual revenue from park fees due to reduced tourism activities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prolonged drought has taken a heavy toll on wildlife conservation activities in counties hardest hit by famine.

In February this year, a senior official for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization stated that drought has caused the death of 1.5 million livestock and drastically cut cereal production.

This article was first published by Africa News on 4 March 2022. Lead Image: Female elephants get into a protective formation around a pair of calfs on a grassy plain at the Ol Kinyei conservancy in Maasai Mara, in the Narok county in Kenya, on June 23 – Copyright © africanews TONY KARUMBA/AFP or licensors.

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