Kenya’s worst drought in 40 years killed 250 elephants and hundreds of other wild animals between February and October this year, according to Kenyan tourism minister Peninah Malonza. Reuters reports that while sporadic rainfall has finally begun in the region, Kenya's Meteorological Department is predicting below-average rainfall for much of the country over the coming months, which means the threat to wildlife is far from over.
"The drought has caused mortality of wildlife... because of the depletion of food resources as well as water shortages," Malonza said at a news conference. She said 14 species had been affected by the drought aside from the elephants, including 512 wildebeest, 381 zebra, 12 giraffe and 51 buffalo, all of whom succumbed to its effects. Alarmingly, 49 rare Grevy’s zebra have also died.
The ministry warned that these figures were far from comprehensive, saying that some carcasses may have been devoured by carnivores and thus mortality figures could be much higher.
Northern and Southern Kenya are most affected by the drought and are also home to the majority of the country’s elephant population. It was reported in October that a well-known elephant calf, famous for being a twin – a rare occurrence in elephant populations – died as a result of the drought.
The ministry has recommended providing vulnerable animals with water, food and salt licks, and to increase monitoring and data collection.
“Animal Survival International has been working to get water to the thirsty elephants and other wildlife of Kenya since 2021,” says ASI executive director, David Barritt. “Last year, we trucked in water and repaired broken boreholes, and this year, we have redoubled our fundraising efforts in order to dig more boreholes and deliver more water with a matter of urgency.”
Barritt said that his organization was deeply concerned about the enduring drought, and that it would continue to work closely with local partners to get deliver urgent water supplies to where they were needed most.