East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years and its wildlife and tourism are bearing the brunt. Drought in Kenya has killed 205 elephants and numerous other wildlife between February and October 2022.
Although sporadic rainfall has finally started in the region, Kenya’s meteorological department is forecasting below-average rainfall for much of the country for the coming months, raising fears that the threat to Kenya’s wildlife is not over.
In addition to the dead elephants, 512 wildebeest, 381 common zebra, 12 giraffes, and 51 buffalo have also succumbed to the drought over the same period – some in the national parks that are a major tourist draw for the country.
There have also been 49 deaths of the rare and endangered Grevy’s zebra.
In September, conservation group Grevy’s Zebra Trust said that 40 Grevy’s had died in just three months because of the drought, representing nearly 2% of the species’ population.
The figures released on Friday are likely far from comprehensive, the ministry warned in a report, saying carnivores could have devoured some carcasses.
“Thus, there is a possibility of higher mortality,” the report said.
News of the toll on wildlife in Kenya, where tourism contributes about 10% of economic output and employs over 2 million people, comes just days before the start of the UN climate conference, COP27.