The situation is desperate. The local authorities are in search of funds to carry out more water wells for the animals of the reserve.
Some 55 elephants died of thirst and hunger in Zimbabwe's largest nature reserve, Hwange National Park, said the country's National Parks and Wildlife Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo.
“We can confirm that a total of 55 elephants have died in Hwange National Park in the last two months due to hunger (…) The situation in most of our parks is serious due to the drought induced by climate changeFarawo commented.
“The biggest threat to our animals now is the loss of habitat (…) We have managed to significantly reduce poaching, because we were losing hundreds of elephants, last year we only lost around 20 specimens due to poachingFarawo added.
To try to resolve the situation, the wildlife agency has been drilling wells up to 400 meters to find water for the animals.
They propose hunting and controlled export as a solution
Although the elephant population has declined from around 415,000 to 111,000 in Africa in the last decade, Zimbabwe has one of the largest populations of pachyderms. The country is looking for ways to allow controlled hunting and export of animals to ease pressure on habitat and raise money for conservation.
Zimbabwe can host about 55,000 elephants, but there are now about 85,000, according to a government agency. However, they do not count as much as Zimbabwe made almost 2.5 million euros from the sale of 90 elephants to China and Dubai between 2012 and 2018, in an effort to reduce their numbers and generate more income, Farawo notes. "We believe in the sustainable use of our resources, and these elephants must pay for their maintenance”, He declared in a telephone interview.
Botswana, which also has a large elephant population, this year lifted the ban on hunting elephants, saying the move would help reduce human-animal conflict and generate income.
Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have called for the global ban on elephant ivory trade to be relaxed to reduce the number of animals and ease pressure on their territories.
Not only the elephants have been affected, other species are also moving to the communities near the park in search of food and water, which generates tension among the inhabitants due to the possible presence of lions in the area.
Lack of food does not only affect animals. People are also being affected by the lack of water for irrigation and because the same animals that move in search of food to the most populated areas are destroying the crops.
There are also more serious situations with predators, Farawo assures that 200 people died in one "conflict between humans and animals"In the last five years and that"at least 7,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed by elephants”.
Food shortages have been caused by the combined effects of an economic recession and a drought attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon.
With information from: