08-08-2019 by Giovanna Grampa
Two consecutive months of below-average rainfall and an immediate drought emergency in the Tsavo, due to extreme climate change. The KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) has taken note of the crisis and to launch the alarm is the Senior Warden of the Tsavo Conservation Area, Robert Njue, during a meeting called at the headquarters of the KWS to you.
In the presence of the closest collaborators and Honorary Warden from the Tsavo East and West, Robert Njue announced that no significant rainfall is expected until November with serious problems for the life of the animals.
Only two years ago, an exceptionally long period of lack of rain had seen many animals die of starvation, including about two hundred elephants.
While Kenya's coastline has benefited from heavy rainfall in recent months, not a single drop has reached the savannah. A strong and continuous wind that raises dust everywhere, blows till late at night and keeps away the big and dark clouds pregnant with water.
The savannah, flattened by the strong wind, is completely withered and the reservoirs for the collection of rainwater are now dried up, dry mud crossed by cracks to form an irregular network.
Tough living conditions for animals trying to survive by making the best use of what nature provides them with and concentrating on the few places where you can still find water.
Cloudy days are very rare in this period and make the landscape even more ghostly: red and bare earth cooked by the sun, dead trees stripped of bark and foliage. Unmistakable traces of hungry elephants.
Drought always remains a great threat to the elephant: it can lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Currently, there is concern about the lack of food with a high protein value: the elephants well fed a few months ago, all round and happy, are slimming showing sunken temples and in a few weeks later will begin to glimpse the bones of the pelvis under the wrinkled skin.
Fortunately for now the wind turbines that feed day and night the puddles, called Kijito, are working favoured by the strong wind and are fundamental meeting points for all animals forced to divide the water between them.
The alliances that are created are very fragile: zebras wait, buffaloes are pushed away, giraffes are increasingly insecure and cautious. The elephants themselves are more nervous and launch sound barrels to have priority to quench their thirst by chasing away other elephants from their family group. Unfortunately, in situations of tension between the herds, sometimes it happens that some little ones escape maternal control, running a great risk: the lions are always lurking and hungry. In total darkness they can wait. What interests them are the puppies, easy prey, and the night makes them even stronger and more determined.
When resources are scarce, elephants and other animals arrive in the villages in search of food, destroying the crops and the conflict between animals and villages is rekindled.
KWS launches the appeal and proposes urgent interventions to counter the emergency: new Kijito, new collection basins, reclamation of existing ones. Interventions that, in our opinion, do not solve the problem immediately but are useful to prepare for the next rains that we hope will be abundant. However, there is a lack of funds that KWS is asking for from future sensitive and generous supporters. Unfortunately, even the earth-moving machines, which are useful at least for cleaning the existing reservoirs of sand, are currently not working and require substantial maintenance: a decidedly uphill route.
We can only hope for now for the inaccuracy of the weather projections, trusting in the fact that the forecasts are generally very reliable within two hours, likely over a period of ten days, untrue from here until November.
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by Giovanna Grampa
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