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At least 100 elephants die during Zimbabwe’s drought

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At least 100 elephants in Hwange National Park have reportedly died due to a lack of water as watering holes have dried up, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reported.

The drought is said to be caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon and climate change in the region, according to Reuters.

Hwange Park has no major river running through it, so the animals rely on solar-powered boreholes, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authorities (Zimparks) confirmed.

“We are relying on artificial water because our surface water has declined. Since elephants are water dependent, we are recording more deaths,” Zimparks principal ecologist at Hwange National Park, Daphine Madhlamoto told Reuters.

With an elephant population of around 45,000, Hwange Park is the county’s largest protected area, but is now under threat from an enemy they cannot fight.

Park authorities said the 104 solar-powered boreholes aren’t enough and are no match for the extreme temperatures that are drying up existing waterholes, forcing wildlife to walk long distances searching for food and water.

“Elephants and other wildlife species will face a crisis if the rains don’t come soon.

“In 2019, over 200 elephants died in Zimbabwe due to severe drought; this phenomenon is recurring,” Phillip Kuvawoga, Landscape Programme Director of IFAW, said on the website.

At a time when world leaders descend on the UAE for COP28, the elephants of Zimbabwe and other wildlife conservation projects will be a focal point for the IFAW at the event.

“The anticipated deaths of elephants and other species, such as we are seeing in Zimbabwe right now, must be seen as a symptom of deep-seated and complex challenges affecting the region’s natural resource conservation, aggravated by climate change,” Kuvawoga said.