Climate change is having devastating effects for wildlife around the world. We at ASI work a great deal in Africa and have been striving to mitigate drought conditions in Namibia, Kenya and South Africa.
We focus on immediate help and when the Addo National Park near Gqeberha, South Africa, told us about a drought problem that threatens the lives of baby elephants, we knew we had to turn to our supporters for help.
The problem is that because of drought, waterholes are drying up, and many of them are deep with steep banks…
The thirsty babies have no problem reaching the water – they slide down on their rear ends and have fun doing it – getting out is when the game turns deadly.
…at the Gwarrie Dam the reservoir has very steep banks, which makes it impossible for calves to scramble to safety. Once a young elephant becomes wedged in thick sludge, it quickly exerts all its energy as it writhes to break free. Older elephants are first on the scene ready to assist the calves, but they quickly become equally anxious when their efforts fail. Soon, the entire herd reaches an inconsolable level of panic, and park rangers experience great difficulty dispersing the elephants so that they may reach the endangered calf.
This is an extremely distressing experience for both the calves and the other elephants who attempt to free them – their unnervingly desperate cries for help can be heard far and wide.
The Addo team responds to daily call-outs to free desperate calves. But with over 600 African elephants calling Addo home, the park ranger teams are spread incredibly thin. The teams work long hours conducting vital patrols to protect the species from their greatest threat – poaching for the illegal ivory trade – which means they cannot always respond immediately. The result is that calves sometimes spend an entire day struggling in mud holes before being rescued.
Such frequent reports of elephant calves trapped in mud holes are not unexpected: an adult elephant drinks up to 53 gallons (200 liters) of water every day, which means these animals spend lengthy periods of time at watering holes.
Together with Addo, ASI has devised a long-term solution to protect elephant calves from getting stuck in mud holes and the resulting physical and emotional trauma that it causes them.
If we can raise just $3,000 (£2,290), we can line the waterhole sides with concrete blocks that will protect young elephants from getting stuck in mud holes. Please help us to provide this critical support.
The severe drought has made the already dangerous water holes even more hazardous; mud and eroded slopes make it a death trap for juvenile animals. The concrete block is laid down at a 45-degree angle to reinforce the slope’s banks and make it easier for the animals to get in and out. It’s a simple and effective solution that works like a charm: the animals can quickly walk themselves out, and it saves lives.
Elephants are family-oriented animals, known for their strong social bonds. They display deep emotional anguish when one of their own is injured or in danger. It is heartbreaking to think of their distress as their young are trapped in ankle-deep, uncompromising mud every day.
Please donate as generously as you can today so that we can keep the elephant herds at Addo National Park united as a “family” and free from the collective stress that unobstructed mud holes cause them.