Save wild animals from devastating drought too

Funds should be set aside for the establishment of water pans, boreholes and dams in all our national parks. [File, Standard]

The negative effects of failed rains are getting worse by the day and taking a toll on both humans, domestic and wild animals. For four consecutive seasons, Kenya has experienced below-average rainfall and the devastating effects are there for all to see.

United Nations statistics show that the Horn of Africa is facing the worst drought in 40 years. According to the UN, by May this year, at least 23 million people were under threat of severe hunger due to severe drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The gravity of the problem prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare hunger a national disaster in September 2021 and directed the Treasury to release Sh2 billion to mitigate its effects.

That seems to have barely scratched the surface since appeals for government aid continue to be heard. Today, carcasses of camels, cows, elephants, Zebras and other animals dot arid and semi-arid landscapes in the northern part of the country where the effects of the drought are worst. While human beings can move with their animals to areas where they can get relief, wild animals are hemmed in by their natural habitat. The time has come for the government to actively save wildlife.

Continued loss of Zebra, elephants and other wild animals will negatively impact our tourism industry. Some of these animals are rare species found only in Kenya and their protection is very important. According to Tourism CS Najib Balala, Kenya lost 62 elephants between August and December 2021. Two per cent of a rare species of Zebra has also been lost within two years. Such deaths must be halted.

In 2017, Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua came to the international limelight for his solo efforts to supply wild animals with 3,000 gallons of water in the Tsavo West National Park on a daily basis. If an individual could do such, nothing stops the national government from coming to the rescue of wild animals threatened by drought.

Funds should be set aside for the establishment of water pans, boreholes and dams in all our national parks. Urgently.