Five elephants die of dehydration at Hwange National Park as El Nino sweeps across Africa

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  • Five elephants at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe succumbed to a lack of water. 
  • Young and old elephants are not strong enough to trek long distances in search of water, Zimparks said.
  • Solar-powered boreholes are not enough to save the water crisis at wildlife parks.

Extreme temperatures keep rising as El Nino sweeps across the continent with no rain in sight, particularly in Southern Africa. Now five elephants have been reported dead as a result of dehydration in Zimbabwe.

The five jumbos, according to the Zimbabwe National Parks (Zimparks) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, were found dead in the Sinamatella area of Hwange National Park by rangers.

“Preliminary investigations point to dehydration,” he told News24.

Hwange National Park is part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), which covers Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola, making it the second-largest nature and landscape conservation area in the world.

Animals migrate among these countries depending on climate and other seasonal reasons.

Hwange National Park, according to estimates by conservationists, is home to 44 000 elephants. However, over the years, the large mammals have been moving to neighbouring Botswana in search of water.

This year, due to a change in climate, the migration started as early as September.

The water crisis has seen mostly young elephants and the elderly succumb to dehydration and hunger because they were not strong enough to migrate.

Farawo added:

As the dry period persists, young, ailing, and elderly elephants are particularly vulnerable since they are unable to travel great distances in search of water and food; some have been stranded near water holes, foraging all plants within their range.


Zimparks last year drilled more than a hundred boreholes powered by solar in selected wildlife sanctuaries. However, when surface water dries up, animals are forced to trek long distances in search of food and water.

In 2019, about 200 elephants died from the dry spell. The most immediate way to save the country’s prime wildlife tourist attractions, such as elephants and lions, was to relocate them.