Wildlife and Tourism officials in Kenya say that climate change is killing more elephants in Kenya than poaching. It also poses the biggest threat to the conservation of their lives.
The illegal slaughter of elephants in search for ivory in Kenya used to be the most significant threat to elephants. Yet in the past year only, the country has recorded a whopping 179 deaths among them due to global warming.
Kenya is battling its worst drought in four decades caused by poor rains. The result is rivers and water pans drying up, and grasslands shrinking on game reserves.
According to officials, the crisis is killing 20 times more elephants, citing desiccated carcasses found in Tsavo National Park where much wildlife has fled in recent years in search of water.
Giraffe meat, bones and hair, and elephants’ ivory tusks is a very profitable, if illegal, industry.
With the introduction in 2014 of heftier penalties for poachers, traders and financiers under an updated Wildlife and Conservation Management Act, the Republic of Kenya managed to clamped down on it.
Such policies that brought about a rebound in wildlife populations and Kenyan was hailed for effectively deterring criminals.
Vast landscapes needed for survival
Elephants need vast landscapes for foraging. Rivers, soil and grassland are nevertheless drying up. which has resulted in a deadly, barren environment.
According to experts, adult elephants can consume 300 pounds of food and more than 50 gallons of water a day. Global warming is therefore seriously depriving them of the daily food rations needed.
Najib Balala, the Secretary of Tourism and Wildlife in Kenya, stated in an interview with the BBC that so much time and effort has been spent tackling the issue of poaching that environmental issues have been neglected. He further emphasized the fact that “It is a red alarm,” while commenting on the crisis.
On his country, Balala said “We have forgotten to invest in biodiversity management and ecosystems, we have invested only in illegal wildlife trade and poaching.”
In September 2021 Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then Kenyan President, declared a national disaster due to the drought that was sweeping parts of the country. At that time, millions faced food instability and malnutrition.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it would provide almost $255 million in aid to Kenya, including emergency food and support for farmers who reportedly lost up to 70%& of their crops and livestock.
Livestock affected everywhere
Reports from USAID show that, in addition to deceased elephants, over seven million livestock in Kenya and countries in the Horn of Africa have been perishing since last year.
Giraffes, goats, camels and droves of cattle remans have been found in villages after starving in northern Kenya. Losses of that magnitude turned out to be disastrous for families which are now facing food insecurity.
Although rangers and hunters have tried to help the animals by supplying water and planting drought-resistant trees, the dry spell has been persistent.
A 2020 study declared that by the end of the century, drought could become more intense and frequent in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan with only a moderate future amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Melting glaciers in Europe presents another global problem.
Thee results weren’t uniform across eastern Africa. In Uganda and other parts of Kenya and Ethiopia, there seemed to be no increase or decrease in the frequency of drought.
While the horn of Africa continues to face brutal, dry conditions other parts of the world, including America, must contend with rising temperatures. Several states, including California, are currently enduring their third consecutive year of low rains, which has forced them to introduce water restrictions.