At Least 100 Elephants Die As Drought Hits Kenya's National Park
2009-09-30

NAIROBI, Sept 30 (Bernama) -- Kenya's wildlife authorities said more than 100 elephants have died due to a severe drought in the sprawling Tsavo National Park, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Tsavo Conservation Assistant Director Jonathan Kirui told the Standard newspaper that the elephants died of hunger and poacher attacks between July and this month.

"We have so far lost 109 elephants in the past three months and the number is increasing every day due to drought and poaching activities," said Kirui. The east African nation has more than 200 elephants.

"Drought related elephants and hippos deaths have been on the increase in the park as water and pasture continue to decline," said Kirui.

Conservationists say elephants roam widely to get their daily ration of as much as 200 liters of water and about 300 kg of grass, leaves and twigs. But the water is disappearing and the grass is all but gone.

"The animals' body condition is also worsening especially for elephants, buffalos and hippos due to lack of pasture and water," Kirui said.

Kirui warned that if it did not rain soon wildlife would be wiped out affecting tourism in the world-famous park.

Kirui said KWS has started giving hippos hay to save them from death.

Meanwhile, KWS personnel arrested four suspected poachers and impounded several ivory as a crackdown on poaching activities intensified in the park.

Kirui said two of the suspects were arrested at Chakama in the Tsavo East with 63 kg of ivory while the other suspects at Kishushe with eight kg of the trophies.

The Director said the prolonged drought has encouraged poaching and warned that anyone found would be dealt with according the law.

More than 40 elephants have died in the past two months in Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu districts.

It was initially thought to be a disease outbreak but laboratory tests failed to detect disease.

The only probable reason the animals are dying is drought, Moses Litoloh, a senior scientist with the KWS said early this month.

 Original Article