Concern as 179 Kenyan Elephants Die in One Year

Elephants at a sanctuary in Kenya
Elephants at a sanctuary in Kenya

Elephants in Kenya are facing an even greater risk than poaching. The government raised an alarm over the detrimental impact of climate change - even as it plans to build water pans in National Parks to avoid more deaths.

In an interview with the BBC, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala revealed that Kenya had lost 179 elephants in the last year due to drought.

Balala noted that due to low rainfall, the vegetation which supports elephants in the country has been severely affected and water pans have also dried up.

"In the last year, at least 179 elephants have died of thirst, whereas poaching has claimed the lives of fewer than 10. It is a red alarm," the CS stated. 

Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a visit to Maasai Mara.
Vipingo Ridge Board Director, Najib Balala.
Najib Balala

“We have forgotten to invest in biodiversity management and ecosystems. We have invested only in illegal wildlife trade and poaching," he added.

The drought crisis has killed 20 times more elephants than poaching in a year. Elephants had moved to the Tsavo National Park in search of water but the drought led to the death of the big animals.

According to the ministry, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) had been finding carcasses in the Tsavo where much wildlife had fled to.

Elephants need expansive spaces as they search for wild food resources. Adults can consume up to 136Kgs of food and drink more than 189 litres of water a day. 

However, rivers are drying up, resulting in an unyielding and deadly environment which has affected the vegetation. 

In March Balala stated that Kenya lost 62 elephants within five months due to drought.

The CS stated that the elephants were lost between August and December 2021.

“Through August to December, 62 elephants have died due to drought. We are rushing to build water pans in our parks including Tsavo which is most affected,” Balala told the National Assembly’s Committee on Finance.

He noted that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) lacked sufficient resources to put up water pans in the drought-affected areas.

“We as the Tourism Promotion Fund (TPF) are currently considering a request from the State Department for Wildlife of Ksh200 million for the establishment of water pans, drilling of boreholes, dams and provision of water in Tsavo National Park,” he added.

Tourism CS Najib Balala
Tourism CS Najib Balala speaking during the launch of the Tourism and Travel, Health and Safety Protocols on July 1, 2020.
  • . . . . .